Archive for the 'Islam' Category

Should Christians love their enemies by using guns?

Monday, April 11th, 2016

By Spencer D Gear PhD

[The shooters’ Ford Expedition SUV, involved in the shootout. Released by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, photo courtesy Wikipedia]

How do you think the USA or any other country can prevent or stop mass shootings? Is it possible to live peacefully with others, without having guns for defence?

What provoked this kind of discussion was the horrible massacre of people at San Bernardino CA, USA. Fourteen people were shot dead and 21 were wounded on December 2, 2015, according to the Los Angeles Times article, ‘San Bernardino shooting victims: Who they were’ (17 December 2015). Those who shot the victims were a Sunni Muslim couple who lost their lives in the massacre, shot by police. See ‘They met online, built a life in San Bernardino — and silently planned a massacre’ (Los Angeles Times, 5 December 2015).

It should not be surprising that someone would start a thread on a Christian forum with this title, ‘How Can The U.S.A. Reduce Mass Shootings?’[1]

Standard pro-guns responses

Related imageSince my family and I have lived in USA and Canada for 7 years, we learned how much some Americans love their guns. Some of our Christian friends had guns and would not live without them.

Here are some of the pro-gun responses on that Christian forum:

clip_image002 ‘Gun control will take guns from those who abide by the law. Do you really think bad guys, felons, creeps will say “o i cant (sic) have a gun it is against the law” do you really?’[2]

clip_image002[1] ‘Well I see it like this; If there are 20 people in a place and 10 have a concealed weapon on them and three or four terrorist come in the terrorist are going to lose. if one wont stand and fight they do not deserve liberty and freedom’.[3]

clip_image002[2] ‘While I do agree that we should “fight” it, in some ways, spiritually – we can’t win this without fighting back, in a few ways, that are not spiritual but physical’.[4]

clip_image002[3] ‘Remove legally owned guns from law-abiding citizens, and the criminals still have the guns, with access to more. The same goes for ammo’.[5]

clip_image002[4] ‘It’s all about power. The powerful prey upon the weak. If you have a gun then one type of predator will avoid you but another one will seek to destroy you.
In America 4.5 out of 10 (at a minimum) have a firearm. (There are some that do but refuse to admit that they have one.)
So about half the citizens are armed’.[6]

Massacre at San Bernardino

What happened at San Bernardino CA in the late morning of 2 December 2015? The Los Angeles Times reported on 2 December that a male and a female who were dressed in black masks and tactical gear – armed with long guns and pistols – ‘entered a holiday party for county health workers in San Bernardino as it was in full swing. Before they fled, they had killed 14 people and wounded 17[7] others’.

Four hours later, as fearful residents were ordered to stay home and scores of officers swarmed the streets, authorities chased a black SUV carrying two suspects from a home in the nearby city of Redlands. As TV news stations broadcast live overhead, the chase spilled back onto San Bernardino’s streets, where authorities and the suspects traded gunfire.

When it was over, a man and woman connected to the assault were dead. One body lay in the street, blood pooling. Another was recovered from the vehicle. A police officer also was wounded in the firefight but is expected to survive (Serrano 2015).

The New York Times reported that the perpetrators of the terrorist act, ‘Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik met online and married two years ago, after he presented himself on a Muslim dating site as a devout young man who liked to fix cars and memorize the Quran’ (Nagourney et al 2015).

After the shooting, the couple escaped in a rented vehicle but four hours later police located them and they were killed in a shootout. ‘They died in a crush of bullets in a brutal face-off with the police’ The husband (Farook) was born in Illinois and raised in Southern California. His wife (Malik) was born in Pakistan and recently was living in Saudi Arabia’ (Nagourney et al 2015).

This slaughter and injuries have reignited the USA debate over guns.

Enter an Aussie with the Port Arthur solution

Tasmanian town locator PortArthur.gif(location of Port Arthur where majority of killings occurred, map courtesy Wikipedia)

 

It was on 28-29 April 1996 that there was a massacre of 35 people at Port Arthur, a former prison colony, and now centre for tourism on the south-eastern coast of Tasmania, Australia. Also, 23 other people were wounded. A 28-year-old, Martin Bryant from the Hobart suburb of New Town, was found guilty and received 35 life sentences. There is no possibility that he will be paroled (Hester 1996; CNN 1996).

 

 

 

Image result for photo of gun buyback Australia public domain

(photo of guns bought back, courtesy news.com.au)

As a result of this massacre, the Australian government led by Prime Minister John Howard at that time implemented a buyback of guns. ‘A  national firearm buyback scheme was progressively implemented from September 1996 and ran for 12 months. This was supported by a national firearm amnesty in which people in possession of illegal firearms could hand them in without penalty’ (Ozanne-Smith et al 2004). This buyback took in 660,959 firearms (Hope 2014).

As many USA folks on the forum were discussing the need to obtain and use guns, I dared to raise another perspective that was not much appreciated.[8]

Why don’t you take a read of this article in The New York Times from 4 December 2015, ‘How a Conservative-Led Australia Ended Mass Killings‘.

There is a way to fix most of it, but the sinful human heart will constantly challenge it.

A biblical answer is found in Romans 13:1-7 (ESV):

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.?

If the USA government had the will like the Australian government has, it could implement anti-gun laws like we have. But the gun lobby will resist like they did in Australia. But we’ve had no massacres since we implemented these laws.

Nevertheless, ISIL could change that with its suicide bombs.

Predictably, someone came back with a view that

1. Gun control is a flawed policy

He linked to the article, ‘Australia: More violent crime despite gun ban’ (Nemerov 2009). This article claims:

It is a common fantasy that gun bans make society safer…. In 2002–five years after enacting its gun ban–the Australian Bureau of Criminology acknowledged there is no correlation between gun control and the use of firearms in violent crime: “The percentage of homicides committed with a firearm continued its declining trend since 1969.”

Even the head of Australia’s Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, acknowledged that the gun ban had no significant impact on the amount of gun-involved crime: There has been a drop in firearm-related crime, particularly in homicide, but it began long before the new laws and has continued on afterwards. I don’t think anyone really understands why…. gun control is a flawed policy.

Will Oremus (2012) has responded to this kind of reaction:

What happened next has been the subject of several academic studies. Violent crime and gun-related deaths did not come to an end in Australia, of course. But as the Washington Post’s Wonkblog pointed out in August [2012?], homicides by firearm plunged 59 percent between 1995 and 2006, with no corresponding increase in non-firearm-related homicides. The drop in suicides by gun was even steeper: 65 percent. Studies found a close correlation between the sharp declines and the gun buybacks. Robberies involving a firearm also dropped significantly. Meanwhile, home invasions did not increase, contrary to fears that firearm ownership is needed to deter such crimes. But here’s the most stunning statistic. In the decade before the Port Arthur massacre, there had been 11 mass shootings in the country. There hasn’t been a single one in Australia since.

There have been some contrarian studies about the decrease in gun violence in Australia, including a 2006 paper that argued the decline in gun-related homicides after Port Arthur was simply a continuation of trends already under way. But that paper’s methodology has been discredited, which is not surprising when you consider that its authors were affiliated with pro-gun groups.

Live peacefully with everyone

Let’s examine Rom 12:18 (ESV) in context: ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’.[9]

In Rom 12 we are dealing with living life in presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1-2), how to demonstrate gifts of grace (Rom 12:3-7) and how to live out the Christian life (Rom 12:8-21). Rom 12:18 is in this latter section that includes ‘bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse’ (Rom 12:14) and ‘repay no one evil for evil’ (Rom 12:17). Romans 12:18 (ESV) states, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all’.

The close connection of Rom 12:17, Rom 12:18 and Rom 12:19 should be self evident. These verses exhort believers not to engage in behaviour that has a negative impact on them. From v. 17 we learn that ‘no one’ should be paid evil by us for evil done by them. In v. 18, we are to live peaceably ‘with all’. What did Jesus urge upon us according to Matt 5:9, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God’?

Image result for peace public domainFrom the context of Rom 12:18, we don’t know the specifics of whether there was a situation in the church of Rome that caused the kind of teaching of Rom 12:18, but Rom 12:14 is clear enough that we should be blessing those who persecute us. Could these Roman believers have been experiencing persecution and needed this instruction? Could be!

Jesus made it clear that ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33). Paul in Rom 12:18 is acknowledging that for the Christian, conflict is not possible to avoid, but he adds this double qualification, ‘If possible, so far as it depends on you’ – leave peaceably. I, as a believer, have a responsibility to live at peace with those who oppose me.

The application is that Paul is saying that persecution is inevitable but he doesn’t want Christians to use this certainty of opposition to them and their faith to be an opportunity for them to engage in behaviour that needlessly inflames the conflict. He doesn’t want us to see the unavoidable persecution and opposition as a reason for giving up on a positive witness to those who are opposing us.

It may be impossible for the Christian to live peacefully with all people. Christians may be attacked by evil people for their proclamation of the Gospel, truth and the good. In those circumstances, ‘if possible’ the Christian is to be a pacifist while he or she may be an activist for Christ and the truth. The Christian is to start no strife or hostility. It is the sinful flesh that initiates discord. Yes, the Christian will become involved when another initiates a brawl.

I cannot see Rom 12:18 being used as justification for opposing a gun wielding person by using your own gun. The context in Rom 12:14 indicates that the Christian is to ‘bless those who persecute you’.

Surely the next verse is a stunning answer to the issues some raise with regard to v. 18, ‘ Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord”’ (Rom 12:19).

Using guns amounts to avenging ourselves. God’s instruction to us (my paraphrase) is: Don’t do it with a gun. Leave vengeance to the Lord. The Lord will repay with his own retribution.

Works consulted

CNN World News 1996. Australian gunman laughs as he admits killing 35 (online), November 7. Available at: http://archive.is/WAYM3 (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Hester, J 1996. Aftermath of horror death toll climbs to 35; Tasmaniac is charged. New York Daily News (online), 30 April. Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/archives/news/aftermath-horror-death-toll-climbs-35-tasmaniac-charged-article-1.724745 (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Hope, E 2014. Kaechele tunes in to help old home with massive gun buyback. The Mercury (online), October 12. Available at: http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/kaechele-tunes-in-to-help-old-home-with-massive-gun-buyback/news-story/f9d774827cbb5da6d3bd26294f941efd?nk=447736ec10caab2ce01813e7aaf44ad7-1460416786 (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Lenski, R C H 1936. Commentary on the New Testament: The Interpretation of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers (this was originally published by Lutheran Book Concern, assigned in 1961 to Augsburg Publishing House. This is a limited edition assigned to Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, second printing 2001).

Moo, D J 1996. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistle to the Romans. N B Stonehouse, F F Bruce & G D Fee (gen eds, each over various years). Grand Rapids, Michigan / Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Nagourney, A; Lovett, I; Turkewitz, J; and Muellerdec, B 2015. Couple Kept Tight Lid on Plans for San Bernardino Shooting. The New York Times, December 3. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/04/us/san-bernardino-shooting-syed-rizwan-farook.html (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Nemerov, H 2009. Australia experiencing more violent crime despite gun ban. Free Republic (online), 8 April. Available at: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2225517/posts (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Oremus, W 2012. After a 1996 Mass Shooting, Australia Enacted Strict Gun Laws. It Hasn’t Had a Similar Massacre Since. Florida Sportsman (online), December 16. Available at: http://forums.floridasportsman.com/showthread.php?89618-After-a-1996-Mass-Shooting-Australia-Enacted-Strict-Gun-Laws-It-Hasn-t-Had-a-Simila&s=cca9dffd2606b6f1e87d455f8e3d0d21 (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Ozanne-Smith, J; Ashby, K; Newstead, S; Stathakis, V Z & Clapperton, A 2004. Firearm related deaths: the impact of regulatory reform. Injury Prevention 10(5), 280-286 (online). Available at: http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/10/5/280.full (Accessed 12 April 2016).

Serrano, R A 2015. Authorities identify couple who they believe killed 14 at San Bernardino holiday party. Los Angeles Times (online), December 2. Available at: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-up-to-20-shot-in-san-bernardino-active-shooter-sought-20151202-story.html (Accessed 19 December 2015).

Notes


[1] Christian Forums.net, December 6, 2015. iLOVE#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/how-can-the-u-s-a-reduse-mass-shootings.62365/ (Accessed 19 December 2015).

[2] Ibid., reba#5.

[3] Ibid., Roro1972#9.

[4] Ibid., Pizza#18.

[5] Ibid., AirDancer#25.

[6] Ibid., JohnDB#55.

[7] This has been updated to 21 others (Nagourney et al 2015).

[8] This content is at Christian Forums.net, OzSpen#43.

[9] I posted this to Christian Forums.net, OzSpen#238. I gained some assistance from Moo (1996) and Lenski (1936).

 

Copyright © 2016 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 April 2016.

 

Is Islam a religion of peace at its core?

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

clip_image001

(image courtesy Firas, Flickr.com, public domain)

By Spencer D Gear PhD

Christianity includes a theology of surrender to God. Jesus’ call to surrender according to Mark 8:34 was: ‘And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”’. According to Luke 6:22-23, this surrender may include rejection, accompanied by blessing:

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.

Leading South African evangelical Christian writer of the 19th century, Andrew Murray, wrote a book titled, Absolute Surrender.

Fighting the Flying Circus

(image courtesy LibriVox)

Therefore, it should not be surprising to find ‘surrender’ as an essential teaching of Islam.

In Arabic, the word “Islam” means submission or surrender – however, it was derived from the root word “salam”. From this root word, you can also obtain the words peace and safety. Many people consider that Islam implies some sort of enslavement to Allah, but others find it more helpful to define the word “Islam” as surrender (Pennington 2008, emphasis in original).

How does salam = peace fit with the Islamic religious verses of violence towards non-believers? The Online Etymology Dictionary states that Islam is a ‘religious system revealed by Muhammad’ from Arabic islam, literally ‘submission’ (to the will of God). It is from root of aslama, which means ‘he resigned, he surrendered, he submitted’, a causative conjunction of salima ‘he was safe’ and is related to salam ‘peace’ (Harper 2001-2015).

However, since salam means peace and Islam means submission to Allah, how does that related to what is said in Quran 48:29[1]? The Ahmed translation reads: ‘Muhammad is the Prophet of God; and those who are with him are severe with infidels but compassionate among themselves’.

This is how this topic began on a Christian forum:[2]

clip_image003

What does the verse in this letter, Quran 5:32 (Yusuf Ali translation), state?

On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.

Another responded to the above letter: ‘Thank you for posting, I think it is needed. I took a world religions class and learned that indeed Islam is a religion of peace’.[3]

clip_image005(image courtesy openclipart)

 

My answer to the notion that Islam is a religion of peace was that that was because the ‘violent’ information – regarding unbelievers/infidels – from the Quran – is ignored or filtered out.[4] Let’s examine some facts about Islam, particulars which the Australian mass media don’t want to trumpet loud and clear.

A. At its core Islam promotes violence to unbelievers

This is the violent nature of Islam according to the Quran:
blue-arrow Quran 4:76 [Yusuf Ali translation], ‘Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah, and those who reject Faith Fight in the cause of Evil: So fight ye against the friends of Satan: feeble indeed is the cunning of Satan’.
blue-arrow Quran 5:33 [Yusuf Ali], ‘The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter’.
blue-arrow Quran 8:12 [Yusuf Ali], ‘Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): “I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them’.
blue-arrowQuran 8:39 [Yusuf Ali], ‘And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere; but if they cease, verily Allah doth see all that they do’.

blue-arrow Quran 47:35 [Yusuf Ali], ‘Be not weary and faint-hearted, crying for peace, when ye should be uppermost: for Allah is with you, and will never put you in loss for your (good) deeds’.
Now try convincing me that at its core, Islam is a religion of peace. It is not. Anyone who promotes the view of the peaceful nature of Islam must ignore these verses from the Quran.

What happened on September 11 2001 in the USA and on 13 November 2015 in Paris is at the core of Muhammad’s requirements for Muslims who are true to their faith.

Patrick Sookhedo, former leader of the Barnabas Fund, wrote an article in 2005 for The Spectator with the title, ‘The myth of moderate Islam’ in which he stated,

By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.

You can even find texts which specifically command terrorism, the classic one being Quran 8:59-60, which urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight non-Muslims, ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies’ (A. Yusuf Ali’s translation) (Sookhdeo 2005).

B. ‘Moderate’ Muslims are like cultural Christians

I suggest there could be a parallel between ‘moderate’ Muslims and cultural Christians.

1. Who are the ‘moderate’ Muslims?

In everyday language in Australia, they are the Muslims who don’t identify with the IS extremism and violence – for the time being. They seem to be reasonable human beings who are trying to assimilate into our culture while maintaining their faith. Their voices tend to oppose extremism. There was an article in The Huffington Post Australia, ‘Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology’ (Markoe 2014) in which it was claimed:

More than 120 Muslim scholars from around the world joined an open letter to the “fighters and followers” of the Islamic State, denouncing them as un-Islamic by using the most Islamic of terms.

Relying heavily on the Quran, the 18-page letter released Wednesday (Sept. 24 2014) picks apart the extremist ideology of the militants who have left a wake of brutal death and destruction in their bid to establish a transnational Islamic state in Iraq and Syria.

Even translated into English, the letter will still sound alien to most Americans, said Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, who released it in Washington with 10 other American Muslim religious and civil rights leaders.

“The letter is written in Arabic. It is using heavy classical religious texts and classical religious scholars that ISIS has used to mobilize young people to join its forces,” said Awad, using one of the acronyms for the group. “This letter is not meant for a liberal audience.”

Even mainstream Muslims, he said, may find it difficult to understand.

Awad said its aim is to offer a comprehensive Islamic refutation, “point-by-point,” to the philosophy of the Islamic State and the violence it has perpetrated. The letter’s authors include well-known religious and scholarly figures in the Muslim world, including Sheikh Shawqi Allam, the grand mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine.

A translated 24-point summary of the letter includes the following: “It is forbidden in Islam to torture”; “It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God”; and “It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslims until he (or she) openly declares disbelief”.

It seems like a contradiction in methodology to blast the ideology of IS (by Muslim scholars) but they do it in language that is in Arabic, using heavy classical religious terms that are designed to reach the young who are being recruited by IS. Since it uses language that mainstream Muslims would find difficult to understand, it defeats the purpose of communicating to the mainstream – the alleged ‘moderates’ – with this obscure and unintelligible document.

Could this Muslim woman who wrote a guest column for the Toronto Sun, Canada on September 15, 2015, be an example of a ‘moderate’? See, ‘Ban niqab, burka in all public places’, by Raheel Raza. She states:

As a Muslim mother who never saw a niqab when I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, I am astonished to see Canada’s judiciary caving in to Islamists who have nothing but contempt for Canada’s values of gender equality.

I write this as a Muslim Canadian who does not have any specific political leanings.

But in the 25 years I have called Canada home, I have seen a steady rise of Muslim women being strangled in the pernicious black tent that is passed off to naïve and guilt-ridden white, mainstream Canadians as an essential Islamic practice.

The niqab and burka have nothing to do with Islam.

They’re the political flags of the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, the Taliban, al-Qaida and Saudi Arabia.

Now I learn I have not only to fight the medieval, theocratic adherents of my faith for a safe space for myself, I have to battle the Federal Court of Canada as well, which has come out on the side of these facemasks.

File:Woman wearing Niqab.JPG(woman wearing niqab, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The article was repeated in The Huffington Post, 24 September 2015, ‘As a Muslim, I think Canada should ban the niqab and birka in public’.

2. Are there moderate Muslims?

It would seem that there are moderates because not all Muslims are involved in terrorism like that in Paris, 13 November 2015, New York City on 11 September 2001, Daesh (IS) attacks in Syria and other countries of the Middle East. ‘In September [2014], the French government began calling the group Daesh which is the Arabic name for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known as ISIS or the Islamic Sate group’ (SBS News, 4 December 2014). However, Sookhdeo (2005), an Islamic specialist, stated that it is a myth to speak of moderate Islam.

How many Muslims are in my home country of Australia?

In research released by the International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia (Hassan 2015:22), its conclusions in 2015 were that more Muslims migrated to Australia following the change of national policy from the Restriction Act of 1901 [commonly known as the White Australia policy] to a more open approach in the late 1960s. In 1966 there were 200,885 Muslims in Australia, but that increased to 476,290 by the 2011 Census, which is a 137% increase (natural increase and by immigration) since 1966. The statistics reveal that 40% of Australian Muslims were Australian born, while the remainder came from 183 countries.

By 2011, Islam was Australia’s third largest religion, representing 2.2% of the population. They are mostly city dwellers, with large urban clusters, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.

A majority of Muslims are Australian citizens, proficient in English and are productive members of society, with large numbers of school-age children. Most of these Muslims are young and have a similar educational profile to similar age Australians. However, they lag behind with employment and income, thus having higher unemployment rates.

Hassan (2015:22) recommended urgent action be taken to implement remedial policies to promote social and economic inclusion. By 2050, it is expected that there will be 1.5 million Australian Muslims, representing 5% of the population, and these will provide a vital bridge to what should then be the largest world religion – Islam (Hassan 2015:22).

I ask: What will be happening in Australia by 2050 with an estimated Islamic population of 5% of the nation? Can we be confident that the majority of Muslims here will be moderates who would not become activists, even terrorists, in the future? I am not convinced this will be the situation since there are verses in the Quran that definitely promote violence towards infidels. All non-Muslims are infidels, including non-Muslim Australians. That will not be in my lifetime but it will be in that of my children and grandchildren. I have a concern for peace and wellbeing here and I cannot see it happening if the events of September 11 2001, 13 November 2015 in Paris, and ‘Mali terrorist attack: Scores dead after Islamist gunmen storm Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako’ 13 November 2015 are multiplied across the world, including Australia.

a. A view from a moderate Muslim nation

File:President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.jpg (Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President, Turkey, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Let’s check on a supposed ‘moderate’ Muslim country such as Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, former Prime Minister and from 2014 the President of Turkey for the AKP Party,[5] when he was mayor of Istanbul in the late 1990s, stated, ‘Thank God, I am for Sharia’ and ‘one cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time’. He added, ‘For us, democracy is a means to an end’ (cited in Yavuz 2009). BBC News reported of Erdogan in 2002:

His pro-Islamist sympathies earned him a conviction in 1998 for inciting religious hatred.

He had publicly read an Islamic poem including the lines: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…”

He was sentenced to 10 months in jail, but was freed after four (BBC News 2002).

For Erdogan, democracy was like a streetcar which you ride ‘until you arrive at your destination, then you step off’ (Yavuz 2009:100, n. 40). Concerning ‘moderate’ Islam, Erdogan, a Muslim, does not believe there is such a thing. His view was that ‘these descriptions are very ugly. It is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it’ (cited in Carol 2015).[6] Or, is Erdogan a voice for the extremist Muslim, even the terrorists?

See the ‘Answering-Islam’ Christian website and the article, ‘Moderate Muslims & Moderate Islam’ by Jacob Thomas.

Michael Mukasey, in reviews of two books on the war on terror, in The Wall Street Journal in 2011, concluded, ‘There are many moderate Muslims, but there is simply no body of doctrine within Islam that provides a principled basis for condemning the 9/11 attacks’ (Mukasey 2011).

Ron Edwards’ evaluation is that there are no such people as ‘moderate’ Muslims. Instead,

most people known as moderate Muslims are those simply waiting until the overall Muslim population is at least around eight percent of the overall population of the country, or city they migrate to. After that they start getting involved politically via the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic organizations and use the judicial system of their chosen nation or city to further the political clout of Muslims at the expense of the native citizens where they immigrated to. Soon after, violent acts begin to occur. Numerous cities in Great Britain, France and even Televiv (sic)[7] Israel are peppered with Muslim stabbings of non-Muslims and boisterous calls for the collapse of the nation, or city they have invaded (Edwards 2015).

Rev Fred Nile, New South Wales Upper House MLC in Australia, whose Christian Democratic Party of two members has the balance of power, is of a similar view concerning what happens when the percentage of Muslims grows to a certain point in a country. He told Leigh Sales of ABC’s 7.30:

There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate and that’s why I felt if we keep the Muslim population at a certain percentage, which at the moment was 1.5, it’s probably two per cent. But once it gets to five per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change, the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding (Sales 2015).

That analysis by Edwards is provocative and food for thought. Those who are truly Muslim will act on the Quran’s requirements when the need arises and they are committed to the Islamic cause of Jihad, Sharia Law,[8] Fatwa and globalization of Jihad. We know the nature of Islamic governments when we examine countries with a majority of Muslims, such as Saudi Arabia (‘Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam’), Iran (‘Sunni Muslims living in fear in Iran as state-sponsored persecution ramps up’) and Indonesia (‘More rigid Islam in Indonesia’).

What is the future when supposed tolerant and ‘moderate’ Muslims do not come out in wholesale denunciation of Islamic suicide bombers and Islamic violence? Could this be a wait and grow strategy until the Muslim population is large enough to have clout in a culture? Ron Edwards considers that that will happen when the percentage of Muslims in a culture grows large enough. He suggests that figure is about 8%.

3. How to deal with the threat

I recommend the article by Shmuel Bar (2004:36), ‘The religious sources of Islamic terrorism’. These are but a couple grabs from a challenging assessment:

The regimes of the Middle East have proven their mettle in coercing religious establishments and even radical sheikhs to rule in a way commensurate with their interests. However, most of them show no inclination to join a global (i.e., “infidel”) war against radical Islamic ideology. Hence, the prospect of enlisting Middle Eastern allies in the struggle against Islamic radicalism is bleak. Under these conditions, it will be difficult to curb the conversion of young Muslims in the West to the ideas of radicalism emanating from the safe houses of the Middle East. Even those who are not in direct contact with Middle Eastern sources of inspiration may absorb the ideology secondhand through interaction of Muslims from various origins in schools and on the internet.

What is a way forward? His heading is ‘Fighting hellfire with hellfire’. Based on what Bar argued in his article, he asked:

Is it possible – within the bounds of Western democratic values – to implement a comprehensive strategy to combat Islamic terrorism at its ideological roots? First, such a strategy must be based on an acceptance of the fact that for the first time since the Crusades, Western civilization finds itself involved in a religious war; the conflict has been defined by the attacking side as such with the eschatological goal of the destruction of Western civilization. The goal of the West cannot be defense alone or military offense or democratization of the Middle East as a panacea. It must include a religious-ideological dimension: active pressure for religious reform in the Muslim world and pressure on the orthodox Islamic establishment in the West and the Middle East not only to disengage itself clearly from any justification of violence, but also to pit itself against the radical camp in a clear demarcation of boundaries. Such disengagement cannot be accomplished by Western-style declarations of condemnation. It must include clear and binding legal rulings by religious authorities which contradict the axioms of the radical worldview and virtually “excommunicate” the radicals. In essence, the radical narrative, which promises paradise to those who perpetrate acts of terrorism, must be met by an equally legitimate religious force which guarantees hell-fire for the same acts (Bar 2004:36-37).

So Bar is calling on Western democratic governments to become involved at the religious level in dealing with this threat of terrorism. I can’t see secular governments like my own in Australia wanting to go down that path. However, it’s a fascinating challenge by a scholar to offer this way forward for governments.

For a more socialised view of Islam in Indonesia (perhaps ‘moderate’ Islam), see, Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Practice in Indonesia (Fealy & White 2008).[9]

4.         Islam spread by violence

If we simply and honestly consider the history of Islam and of its founder, it is impossible to conclude that it is a religion of peace. It was spread by conquest and by force of arms. The Oxford Islamic Studies online (2015) describes the spread of Islam as involving,

  • After the death of Muhammad, under four ‘rightly guided caliphs’, the conquest of territories outside of Arabia began.
  • They ‘started as sporadic tribal raids’, with a proper army organised about AD 634.
  • The ‘newly organized Muslim navy destroyed the Christian fleet at the Battle of the Masts (655). Constantinople was sporadically besieged during this period, though never captured. On the oriental front, the Sasanian army suffered a crushing defeat at the battle of al Qadisiyah (637), and Ctesiphon was taken soon afterwards; this caused the disintegration of the Sasanian empire’.
  • In the expansion, naval expeditions were launched against certain countries and the dynasty of the Muslims ‘emerged as a major seapower’.
  • The conquests came with surprising speed as resistance from other countries was often fragile.

World History’s, ‘History of the Arabs’, further explains the expansion of the early Islamic religion by army conquest and war in the Middle East and northern Africa. This explanation of Islamic history stated, ‘The great Christian cities of Syria and Palestine fall to the Arabs in rapid succession from 635. Damascus, in that year, is the first to be captured. Antioch follows in 636. And 638 brings the greatest prize of all, in Muslim terms, when Jerusalem is taken after a year’s siege’.

Since combat, siege and subjugation have been the Muslim strategy since the beginning of its existence, a change in tactic is not expected in its expansion in Western civilisation when the Muslim population reaches a certain percentage.

I’m of the view that ‘moderate Muslims’ is a politically correct phrase invented so as not to offend our oil producing ‘friends’ as the West needs their oil. If there is a new caliphate, we can expect the ‘moderate Muslims’ to support it (so they don’t get beheaded).

C. Who are the cultural Christians?

Neither ‘moderate’ Muslims nor cultural Christians take their sacred books seriously. The ‘radicals’ are the ones who are acting on what the Quran tells them to do to unbelieving infidels, i.e. all non-Muslims. The radicals among Christians are the evangelicals who take the Gospel seriously and proclaim the gospel of grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone as the only way to salvation (See John 3:16; 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).

1. Separating the biblical from the cultural

See the comparison here of ‘biblical versus cultural Christianity’. The biblical Christian is the person who has faith in the redemptive blood of Christ for salvation. Cultural Christians are those whose desires fit with the cultural motivations and values of this world. It’s a works-based distortion of biblical Christianity, but many of these nominal Christians attend modernist or postmodernist churches that don’t preach the Gospel or believe the authenticity and reliability of Scripture (Kjos Ministries).

If you want to understand the negative impact of cultural Christianity, see the decline in numbers attending mainstream, liberal Christianity in Australia. ‘Two Australian denominations have been given reports that reveal decay and a need for change’. These are the Anglicans and the Uniting Church. For the Anglicans,

only four dioceses reported growth…. In the Anglican Church, the presence of the evangelical diocese of Sydney makes things clear. Unlike other dioceses, it is the only one with better than expected attendance, according to the report’s criteria based on Census data.

In Sydney, 68,000 Anglicans are in church each Sunday. In Melbourne 21,000 Anglicans are in church on Sunday. It was pointed out at General Synod, Eternity understands, that the growing churches were evangelical (Sandeman 2014).

As for the Uniting Church,

MaryboroughUnitingChurch.JPG(Maryborough Qld Uniting Church, photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 A 40 per cent decline in the numbers at church since 1991, and a weekly Sunday attendance of less than 100,000 are key findings for the Uniting Church census released earlier this year [of 2014]….The median worship service attendance per congregation is 35 people. This means that half the congregations have fewer than 35 attending and half have larger numbers. Of the 35 people at the median, 3 would be children.

The number of Uniting Church congregations (local churches) has declined by 31 per cent since 1990. Only 20 per cent of congregations run youth groups, but encouragingly 40 per cent run Sunday schools…. 90 per cent of Uniting Church people under 50 years of age are evangelicals according to Rod James, Adelaide leader of the Assembly of Confessing Congregations (ACC) in the Uniting Church (Sandeman 2014).

So the denominations that emphasise liberal Christianity, promoting the cultural ‘gospel’ of peace and good works – but without the Christian Gospel – can be designated as church groups promoting cultural Christianity. Changed lives through proclamation of the Gospel are not on their agendas.

Here is but one example of cultural Christianity. I read the article, “An Evening with John Shelby Spong,” in the Uniting Church of Queensland’s, Journey magazine (online), 28 September 2007. Then, I read the positive letter towards Spong’s Christianity by Noel Preston. Preston’s letter stated:[10]

Spong again

I write to commend you for the October Journey.

I was especially appreciative of the three commentaries on Bishop Spong’s public meeting in Brisbane.

I do not dissent from the impressions reported and share with Bruce Johnson a measure of disappointment that the address I heard from Jack Spong was short on the detail of “a new approach” to theology, though I have great admiration for the positive impact the Bishop has had on behalf of Christian faith throughout a courageous ministry lasting decades.

Your editorial on the subject mused over what it is that causes such a reaction by many to the 78 year old Bishop.

I suspect its intensity has something to do with his determination to profess his allegiance to Jesus Christ despite challenging certain questionable beliefs, moral codes and institutional norms which have been dubiously confused with the essence of the Gospel.

Perhaps his detractors might opine: “If he could just stop pretending to be a disciple it would be easier to tolerate him!”

This is not an unusual story.

As some of your readers would recognise, attempts to be prophetic from within a religious tradition often bring forth a vehement reaction.

Didn’t it happen to Jesus of Nazareth?

Noel Preston
Auchenflower

That is an example of the promotion of cultural Christianity by Rev Dr Noel Preston – a retired Uniting Church minister – in support of Dr John Shelby Spong, former Episcopal (Anglican) bishop of Newark, New Jersey, USA. While Spong was bishop of that diocese, about 40% of the people left the churches of the diocese. I have attempted to expose Spong’s heretical brand of Christianity in, Spong’s deadly Christianity. Robert Stowe explained the statistical free fall in 2000:

Between 1978 and 1999, the number of baptized persons in the diocese [Newark, NJ] fell from 64,323 to 36,340, a loss of 27,983 members in 21 years. That’s a disastrous 43.5% decline. The Episcopal Church, by contrast, saw a decline in the number of baptized persons from 3,057,162 in 1978 to 2,339,133 in 1997, a loss of 718, 499, or a substantial 23.4%, according to the 1998 Church Annual.

The Diocese of Newark under Spong, thus, has declined at a rate [of] 20.1 percentage points higher than the rate for the entire Episcopal Church. This rate of decline is 86% faster than the Episcopal Church, whose losses are considerable in and of themselves (Stowe 2000).

That’s an example of cultural Christianity in action – massive decline in numbers. This is the cultural Christianity of Spong which Preston wants to call ‘the positive impact the Bishop has’.

See my compiled article on ‘The Content of the Gospel’ for an explanation of the Gospel and discipleship. Those who proclaim Christ alone as the way to salvation will share/preach Gospel content and will be regarded as ‘radicals’ by liberal, cultural Christianity.

I don’t expect the situation around the world to get any better. In my view, Islam cannot be reformed because of the nature of the above instructions from the Quran.

D. Islam vs Christianity

In an article like this, I want to raise a few issues that demonstrate the differences between Islam and Christianity which contribute to the distinction between the two religions, even though these two monotheistic religions use some similar language. I particularly refer to their views of Christ and God. Are their doctrines on these two persons the same? To better understand how peace is demonstrated in these two religions, it will be helpful to examine their views of God and Jesus.

1. Almighty God: Christianity

clip_image006 Who is God in Christianity?

In the Old Testament, the biblical names for God include:

  •  El (including Elim, Elohim, and Eloah). This word is like the Greek, theos, Latin Deus, and the English God. It is a generic name for God and may have a root meaning of power or might, but its basic meaning has been lost (Thiessen 1949:52).
  •  Jehovah (or Yahweh) is ‘the personal name.

God, the Father, is regarded as God. ‘For on him God the Father has set his seal’ (Jn 6:27); the biblical language used is ‘God our Father’ (Rm 1:7); and ‘God the Father’ (Gal 1:1, 3). The Father is God. What is his nature and how are his attributes described in Scripture?

A W Tozer, in his classic on the attributes of God – Knowledge of the Holy – presents an exposition of these attributes. You can read a summary of them at, ‘Attributes of God’ (from AllAbout God, 2002-2015). These include: wisdom, infinitude, sovereignty, holiness, Trinity, omniscience, faithfulness, love, omnipotence, self-existence, self-sufficiency, justice, immutability (i.e. God never changes), mercy, eternal, goodness, gracious, and omnipresence.

2. Jesus Christ: Christianity

Fundamentally, the Jesus of Christianity is the third person of the Trinity. He is God. This is the biblical material to support such a theology:

clip_image006[1]God, the Son, is regarded as God. He has the attributes of deity:[11]

Christian Cross Clipart(image courtesy PublicDomianPictures.net)

 

(1) Eternity (Jn 1:15; 8:58; 17:5, 24);

(2) Omniscience (Jn 4:24; 16:30; 21:17);

(3) Omnipresence (Mt 18:20; 28:20; Jn 3:13);

(4) Omnipotence. ‘I am the Almighty’ (Rev 1:8); Heb 1:3; Mt 28:18;

(5) Immutable – he does not change (Heb 1:12; 13:8);

(6) He performs the actions of deity: creator (Jn 1:3; Heb 1:10; Col 1:16);

holds things together (Col 1:17; Heb 1:3); forgives sin (Mt 9:2, 6); raises the dead (Jn 6:39-40, 54; 11:25; 20:25, 28); he will be the Judge (Jn 5:22) of believers (2 Cor 5:10), of Antichrist and his followers (Rev 19:15), of the nations (Ac 17:31), of Satan (Gen 3:15) and of the living and the dead (Ac 10:42).

For an explanation of the biblical basis of the Trinity, see my article: Is the Trinity taught in the Bible? The Trinity can be diagrammed:

(image courtesy neverendingtruth.net)

Jesus is not only God, but he also became human as the following Scriptures demonstrate. Jesus has two natures – God and man. Here’s the evidence for his humanity:

clip_image006[2]God, the Son, became flesh.

We have seen the divine nature of Christ. However, Scripture reveals that the incarnate Christ had two natures – the divine and the human. The eternal God (the divine), the Son, became flesh (the human). As expected,

(a) He had a human birth that involved being,

  •  conceived in the virgin Mary (Matt 1:18-20, 24-25; Luke 1:34-35). and
  •  born to a woman as a baby on the first Christmas Day.[12] See Gal 4:4; Matt 1:18-2:12; Lk 1:30—38; 2:1-20. This leads to his being called ‘the son of David, the son of Abraham’ (Matt 1:1) and ‘descended from David according to the flesh’ (Rom 1:3). Luke records his descent from Adam (Lk 3:23-38). If you read the NT, you will note that on a few occasions Jesus was referred to as Joseph’s son (Luke 4:22; John 1:45; 6:42; see Matt 13:55), but in context you will see that these comments were by people who were not Jesus’ friends but were by those who did not fully understand who he was (Thiessen 1949:299).

The virgin birth confirmed how in Jesus he could be fully divine and fully human in one person. This is the means God used to make salvation available to all human beings (see John 3:16; Gal 4:4). The virgin birth ensured that Jesus could be truly human but without inherited sin. How so? There is no biblical evidence to support the Roman Catholic view that Mary was without sin. ‘A better solution is to say that the work of the Holy Spirit in Mary must have prevented not only the transmission of sin from Joseph (for Jesus had no human father) but also, in a miraculous way, the transmission of sin from Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy’ (Grudem 1999:230, emphasis in original).

It is critical to understand the Christian view of Jesus as fully God and fully human. Thus he is sometime called the God-man. At Christmas it is critical to comprehend that we do not commemorate the birth of God, the Son. The fact is that we celebrate the birth of the humanity of Jesus.

See my articles:

clip_image006[3] Jesus, the Prince of Peace

It is stated in the prophetic statement about Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 (emphasis added), ‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’. According to Isaiah 48:22, ‘“There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked”’.

In Isa 9:6 there are four famous names mentioned in a parallelism Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Note the singular, ‘name’, which in Hebrew means that ‘this is the type of character that will be his…. It is implied that he is called by these [four] names because he actually is the kind of person that the names say he is’ (Leupold 1971:1.185)

What does ‘Prince of Peace’ mean? How will that be demonstrated when the Messiah fulfils Isa 9:6? The Messiah who fulfils Isaiah’s prophecy will rule over the redeemed people as ‘Prince’. What methods will he use?

The methods by which he achieved his success were peaceful. The people whom he rules are men of peace. The principles according to which he still carries on his work are all peace. In fact, through him the word peace has taken on a much richer spiritual as well as physical connotation (Leupold I.1971:186).

Leupold explains that the prophetic reference linked to the one who is Immanuel (Isa 7:14) as ‘Prince of Peace’ indicates that ‘the very antithesis to what he does would be to attempt to build a successful empire by the methods of brutal war’ (Leupold I.1971:186). In this Isaiah passage, the time frame for when the Prince of Peace would bring in this peace is not stated by the prophet.

I was alerted to this emphasis by Mark Roberts (2010). In the Old Testament, peace was closely associated with righteousness and justice. This verse from Isaiah highlights this view:

Then the wilderness will become a fertile field, and the fertile field will become a lush and fertile forest. Justice will rule in the wilderness and righteousness in the fertile field. And this righteousness will bring peace. Quietness and confidence will fill the land forever (Isa 32:15-17, NLT).

The righteous person practises justice in what he does and this assists in bringing peace.

One of the most read evangelical books on God’s peace is that by Billy Graham, Peace with God (1984, Word Publishing).

Since Jesus, the Son, is the third person of the Trinity, what does the triune God say about peace? Isaiah wrote, ‘”There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked” (Isa 57:21) and the New Testament revealed that ‘God is not a God of confusion but of peace’ (I Cor 14:33). The deduction is that for peace to reign, there must be no more wicked (sinful) people in existence. That will happen only in God’s kingdom of righteousness and justice at Christ’s Second Coming. Second Timothy 3:10-14 puts this in perspective:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.

14 Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace (emphasis added).

That’s when there will be no more sin and sinners to contaminate God’s kingdom. Christians look forward to eternal righteousness and peace. However, 2 Tim 3:14 encourages believers to be ‘at peace’ with one another – NOW.

a. Jesus brings peace

Jesus Himself was careful to confirm what he brings: ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’ (John 14:27, emphasis added). It was after his resurrection that this was recorded of Jesus: ‘On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you”’ (John 20:19, emphasis added).

What does this mean for the Christian? The apostle Paul left no doubt: ‘And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful’ (Col 3:15, emphasis added). God’s peace has this effect on Christians: ‘Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all’ (2 Thess 3:16, emphasis added).

b. Jesus, peace, and division

Related image(image courtesy theeconomiccollapseblog.com)

 

 

There’s a tricky series of verses in Luke 12:49-53:

49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law” (ESV, emphasis added).

How is it possible that the Prince of Peace who came to bring peace, could say that he would bring division? Surely this is contradictory or a paradox? This is the Jesus who pronounced, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matt 5:9, emphasis added). Can the Bible’s view of peace be trusted in light of Luke 12:49-53 and these verses? Ps 72:7; Lk 1:79; 2:14; 7:50; 8:48; Jn 14:27; 16:33; 20:19-21; Rom 5:1; 14:17; Eph 2:14; Col 1:20; Heb 6:20-7:2. Surely this string of verses confirms that Jesus is the one who brings peace? Acts 14:22 gives another dimension with this language: ‘strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’. The context is that Jews stoned Paul, dragged him out of the city as dead. When the disciples gathered around Paul, he rose up, preached the Gospel in Derbe with Barnabas and told the disciples that discipleship involves ‘many tribulations’ before entering God’s kingdom.

How can it be the Gospel of peace that brings division in families, among religious groups and in nations? It is not difficult to reconcile as the Jesus of the Gospel divides people, even people in a household, where there will be those who serve Jesus and those who reject him – even hate him. The parallel passage to Luke 12:49-53 in Matthew’s Gospel is Matt 10:34-36. Verse 34 states, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’.

The Gospel brings a rift between those who love Jesus and those who reject him. Christ does bring peace in the individual’s relationship with God and with other believers, but it is not as the culture understands it. Christ’s peace is not that of compromise or tolerance towards evil. The world calls failure to compromise to the culture’s standards – intolerance or bigotry. On April 4, 2015, Salon published an article declaring such, ‘Right-wing Christianity teaches bigotry: The ugly roots of Indiana’s new anti-gay law’.

Rather, Christ’s Gospel triumphs over evil, wrong and Satan because of the victory achieved by Jesus’ death and resurrection. It is expected that this will bring opposition from families, communities and nations. ‘It is no namby-pamby sentimentalism that Christ preaches, no peace at any price. The Cross is Christ’s answer to the devil’s offer of compromise in world dominion. For Christ the kingdom of God is virile righteousness, not mere emotionalism’ (Robertson 1930:84).

In John 16:33, we have the recorded words of Jesus: ‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’ (emphasis added). The Christian experiences the peace of God in the midst of tribulation while living in a difficult or hostile culture – the world of unbelief in Jesus.

This biblical evidence makes it clear that:

  • The promised Immanuel – Messiah – was to be the Prince of Peace.
  • Jesus did bring peace and especially peace in the relationship between redeemed sinners and God.
  • However, this peace with Christ brings divisions in families and nations because of love for Christ versus rejection of Christ.

Now let’s check out Islam’s view of God and Jesus.

3. God: Islam

File:Star and Crescent.svg(image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 

For Islam, God is called Allah. What are his nature and attributes?

clip_image006[4] The Oneness of Allah

On this Islamic website, monotheism is affirmed about the ‘Nature of Allah’:

Islam is based on monotheism. Tawhid, the oneness of Allah, is an essential belief for all Muslims. Islam teaches that Allah, the one god, has 99 attributes. Although we can understand some of His attributes, His essence cannot be comprehended by a human’s limited mental capacity. Allah has created mankind primarily so that they may know their creator through his creations.

Realisation of the supremacy of Allah, although necessary for success in the hereafter, has not been enforced on man – it is a test that is based on the fact that man has been given free will. However, man’s free will is limited, although he has the freedom to choose between right and wrong, he cannot change parts of his destiny that Allah has pre-determined. Understanding the nature of Allah is essential as it has a substantial effect on a Muslim’s duties to Allah.

The oneness of Allah is the one most important theological principal (sic) in Islam. The first of the five pillars, the declaration of faith, which is the first act that one does to embark on Islam, reiterates the necessity of the belief in the oneness of Allah. It begins with the negation of any god other than Allah:

“I bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His messenger.”

Beginning with negation rather than affirmation, in this case, serves to emphasise strongly the importance of the oneness of Allah.

The Quran, the words of Allah mediated to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Jibril (Gabriel), is full of references to the essential belief in one god:

Say ‘He is Allah the One’ 112:1

Surely Allah alone is the creator of all things and he is the One, the Most Supreme 13:17

Say ‘I am only a Warner, and there is no god but Allah, the One, the Most Supreme. 23:66

Holy is He! He is Allah the One, the Most Supreme 39:5 (emphasis in original).

Note what the Quran states to deny the Trinity and punish those who believe in it: Quran 5:73 states, ‘They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them’.

The five pillars of Islam are the framework for the Muslim life:

1. The testimony of faith,

2. Prayer,

3. Giving zakat (support of the needy),

4. Fasting during the month of Ramadan, and

5. The pilgrimage to Makkah [Mecca] once in a lifetime for those who are able (www.islam-guide.com).

clip_image006[5] Some of the attributes and actions of Allah: Is he the Lord God Almighty revealed in the Bible?

Image result for allah clipart public domain

(image courtesy clker.com)

For an extensive comparison of Allah vs Jehovah, see the article, ‘Is Allah the God of the Bible?’ (Shamoun n d). Here is documented from the Quran:

  • Allah is the author of evil.
  • Allah is the author of abrogation.[13]
  • Allah is the author of historical errors.
  • Allah is the author of carnal pleasures (e.g. ‘for those who fear Allah is a blissful abode, enclosed gardens and vineyards, and damsels with swelling breasts (Arabic – Kawa’eb), their peers in age, and a full cup’, Surah 78:31-34’).
  • Allah is the author of foreign words.
  • Arabic scholars point to Allah being the author of grammatical errors.
  • Allah and oaths: Jehovah swears by himself (Heb 6:13); Allah swears by less than himself, including the Quran, the sky and constellations, by the pen, city and creation.
  • Allah is not Triune.

Quran 112:1-4 (Yusuf Ali translation) succinctly gives the Muslim understanding of Allah’s nature:

1.Say: He is Allah, the One and Only;

2.Allah, the Eternal, Absolute;

3.He begetteth not, nor is He begotten;

4.And there is none like unto Him.

a. Allah is remote and not involved

Allah is distant and does not have immanence. Immanence means that God is involved in the creation. He is not uninterested or uninvolved with people and his creation. Job explained the God of the Bible this way, ‘In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind’ (Job 12:10 ESV), while the New Testament revealed, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all’ (Eph 4:6 ESV). In Christianity, the Lord God is present in all creation, including in the life of the believer. Of course, Jehovah exists outside of space and time (called transcendence) but he acts in time through his immanence.

How does this compare with Allah? In ‘The Haddith of Allah’s “Descent”’, it is stated:

What we must believe is that Allah existed and nothing existed with Him; that He created all creation, including the Throne, without becoming subject to disclosure through them, nor did a direction arise for Him because of them, nor did He acquire a location in them; that He does not become immanent, that He does not cease to be transcendent, that he does not change, and that He does not move from one state to another (Haddad n d, emphasis added).

Thus, the God of Islam is very different to the God of Christianity. They are not one and the same God. What is of concern is how readily Christians living in the Islamic world use the word Allah to refer to the Almighty God of Christianity. Sam Shamoun has outlined the issue:

We are well aware that the name Allah is used by Arab speaking Christians for the God of the Bible. In fact, the root from which the name is derived, ilah, stems from the ancient Semitic languages, corresponding to the Mesopotamian IL, as well as the Hebrew-Aramaic EL, as in Ishma-el, Immanu-el, Isra-el. These terms were often used to refer to any deity worshiped as a high god, especially the chief deity amongst a pantheon of lesser gods. As such, the Holy Bible uses the term as just one of the many titles for Yahweh, the only true God.

Yet the problem arises from the fact that Muslims insist that Allah is not a title, but the personal name of the God of Islam. This becomes problematic since according to the Holy Bible the name of the God of Abraham is Yahweh/Jehovah, not Allah:

God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am Yahweh (YHVH) and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty; BUT BY MY NAME, YAHWEH, I did not make myself known to them.” Exodus 6:2-3

Therefore, Christians can use Allah as a title or a generic noun for the true God, but not as the personal name for the God of the Holy Bible (Shamoun n d).

clip_image006[6]Who is the Islamic Jesus (Isa)?

File:Turkish-islam isa.jpg(Turkish Islam Isa, image courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

 

It is not unusual to hear a statement like this: Both Christianity and Islam confirm who Jesus is; they both believe in Jesus. However, I ask, who is the Jesus of Islam in comparison with the Jesus of the Bible? In Islam, Jesus is known as Isa.

According to Quran 2:111 (Yusuf Ali translation), ‘And they [Jews or Christians] say: “None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their (vain) desires. Say: “Produce your proof if ye are truthful”’. This is not true for a genuine Christian. The only people who will enter Paradise are those who are forgiven sinners who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (see 1 John 1:9; John 3:16; John 6:47 and Acts 16:31). There are three references to Paradise in the New Testament:

  • Perhaps the most well-known example is in what Jesus said to the thief dying beside him on another cross: ‘And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise”’ (Lk 23:43).
  • What was the apostle Paul’s experience? In 2 Cor 12:3-4 he wrote, ‘And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter’.
  • ‘Jesus told the church at Ephesus “To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God”’ (Rev 2:7).

So apparently paradise is where God is because it is called the “Paradise of God” and Jesus told the thief that he would be with him in Paradise that very day. Jack Wellman has written an excellent article to deal with the question, ‘What are the Differences Between Paradise and Heaven in the Bible?’ (Patheos, September 11, 2014) in which he concluded:

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a. Curse on those who call Christ, the son of Allah[14]

Quran 9:30 states: ‘The Jews call ‘Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah’s curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!’

b. Jesus, son of Mary, only a messenger

Quran 4:171 affirms:

O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not “Trinity”: desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.

Quran 5:75:

Christ the son of Mary was no more than a messenger [or, an apostle]; many were the messengers [or, the apostles] that passed away before him. His mother was a woman of truth. They had both to eat their (daily) food. See how Allah doth make His signs clear to them; yet see in what ways they are deluded away from the truth!

So Jesus, being the son of Mary, was no more than a messenger, which is contrary to Matt 11:27, where Jesus states that ‘all things have been handed over to me by my Father’.

c. Jesus and Mary as gods

Quran 5:116:

And behold! Allah will say: “O Jesus the son of Mary! Didst thou say unto men, worship me and my mother as gods in derogation of Allah’?” He will say: “Glory to Thee! never could I say what I had no right (to say). Had I said such a thing, thou wouldst indeed have known it. Thou knowest what is in my heart, Thou I know not what is in Thine. For Thou knowest in full all that is hidden.

Jesus and his mother are deities and the Holy Spirit is not stated as divine.

d. Allah cannot have a son

Quran 6:101:

To Him [Allah] is due the primal origin of the heavens and the earth: How can He have a son when He hath no consort? He created all things, and He hath full knowledge of all things.

Quran 72:3, ‘And Exalted is the Majesty of our Lord: He has taken neither a wife nor a son’.

e. So, there can be no son who died for the sins of the world

The Islamic deduction is that Allah cannot have a consort, i.e. a husband, wife, spouse, companion, associate or partner (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. s v consort). Thus, Allah cannot have a son who died on the cross to provide salvation for people’s sins.

f. Islam confirms this of Jesus (Asa):

(1) Christ Jesus was the Messiah, son of Mary, and was a created being (Quran 3:45-47);

(2) Jesus was created, like Adam as a man, from the dust when God said, ‘Be’, and he was brought into existence (Quran 3:59);

(3) Jesus performed miracles (Quran 3:49);

(4) Jesus was not crucified but another man like him was killed in his place (Quran 4:157).

For further reading: I recommend these three articles about the Isa (Jesus) of Islam when compared with the Jesus of the Christian Scriptures:

E. Differences between Islam and Christianity

The above evidence should demonstrate clearly that the nature and attributes of Allah are quite different to those of Jehovah, the Almighty God. Allah and Jehovah do not refer to the same God.

The Jesus revealed in Scripture is not the Jesus (Isa) of Islam. This especially relates to Jesus’ origin and his crucifixion. The Christian understanding is that Jesus has always existed as John 1:1 confirms, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’. Historically, Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection were the turning point in history and in making salvation available for all people. See Luke 23:26-56 and Luke 24:1-49 for confirmation of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in history. Evidence of Jesus’ atoning death for the sins of the world is found in Scriptures such as John 3:16-18 and 1 John 2:2.

F. What can we expect before Jesus’ return?

Mark 13:18-27 (New Living Translation) tells us what we can anticipate before Christ’s second coming:

And pray that your flight will not be in winter. For there will be greater anguish in those days than at any time since God created the world. And it will never be so great again. In fact, unless the Lord shortens that time of calamity, not a single person will survive. But for the sake of his chosen ones he has shortened those days.

“Then if anyone tells you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah,’ or ‘There he is,’ don’t believe it. For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and perform signs and wonders so as to deceive, if possible, even God’s chosen ones. Watch out! I have warned you about this ahead of time!

“At that time, after the anguish of those days,

the sun will be darkened,
the moon will give no light,
the stars will fall from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.[15]

Then everyone will see the Son of Man[16] coming on the clouds with great power and glory[17]. And he will send out his angels to gather his chosen ones from all over the world[18]—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven.

Therefore, before Jesus’ Second Coming, we can expect ‘greater anguish’ than at any time since the creation of the world. That sure sounds like catastrophic events. Unless God calls an end to this horrific distress, not a single person would survive in the world. But God will shorten the terror because of his elect believers. If it were not for Christians in the world at that time, God would destroy the whole of humanity. During this time there will be the actions of false messiahs and false prophets performing false miracles.

However, Jesus, the Son of Man, will come in the clouds and with great power and glory and he will put an end to the catastrophe.

G. Conclusion

On the human level, I see the future as very bleak for the West and for Christians. What we have seen on September 11, 2001, in Paris on 13 November 2015, and in Mali on 20 November 2015, should tell us that the Jihadist Muslims of IS are deadly serious about attacks on the West. The verses cited above from the Quran indicate that violence is one of the core values of Islam.

Genuine Muslims committed to Allah and the Quran are devoted to violence towards nonbelievers.

But there is hope – the blessed hope – for every Christian who has put his or her faith in Christ alone for salvation. This is stated clearly in Titus 2:11-13 (ESV):

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (emphasis added).

See also my other articles:

This glorious return of Jesus Christ to end all of the trauma on earth is beautifully anticipated in this Gospel song:

What A Day That Will Be [19]

Words and Music by Jim Hill

Mark 14:62
“And Jesus said, I AM:
and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power,
and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

v.1

There is coming a day when no heartaches shall come
No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.
All is peace forevermore on that happy golden shore,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus
What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,
And I look upon His face,
The One who saved me by His grace;
When He takes me by the hand
And leads me through the Promised Land,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

v. 2

There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear,
No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there;
And forever I will be with the One who died for me,
What a day, glorious day that will be.

Chorus

Here are a couple versions of this very appropriate song for the theme of this article, when there will be ultimate peace.

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(Jim Hill, courtesy Youtube.com)

3d-red-star-small Bill & Gloria Gaither (1) – here the composer of the song, Jim Hill, sings the song.

3d-red-star-small Jim Hill, Donnie Sumner & Jimmy Blackwood.

Works consulted

Bar, S 2004. The religious sources of Islamic terrorism. Policy Review 125 (online), June & July, 27-37. Research Library, American Civil Liberties Union. Available at: https://action.aclu.org/files/fbimappingfoia/20111019/ACLURM001331.pdf (Accessed 23 November 2015).

BBC News 2002. Turkey’s charismatic pro-Islamic leader. World edition (online), 4 November. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/2270642.stm (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Carol, S 2015. Understanding the Volatile and Dangerous Middle East: A Comprehensive Analysis. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.

Coffman, E 2008. Why December 25? Christian History (online), 8 August. Available at: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/news/2000/dec08.html (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Edwards, R 2015. Do you really believe there are moderate Muslims? Newswithviews.com (online), 20 November. Available at: http://www.newswithviews.com/RonEdwards/ron152.htm (Accessed 23 November 2015).

Fealy, G & White, S (eds) 2008. Expressing Islam: Religious life and politics in Indonesia. Pasir, Panjang: Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Grudem, W 1999. Bible doctrine: Essential teachings of the Christian faith. J Purswell (ed). Leister, England: Inter-Varsity Press (published by arrangement with Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan).

Haddad, G F n d. The Hadith[20] of Allah’s Descent,[21] pt 2 (online). Available at: http://www.sunnah.org/aqida/haddad/Allah’s%20Descent2.htm (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Harper, D 2001-2015. Islam. In Online Etymology Dictionary. Available at: http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=Islam&searchmode=none (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Hassan, R 2015. Australian Muslims: A demographic, social and economic profile of Muslims in Australia 2015. International Centre for Muslim and Non-Muslim Understanding (online), 1-45. Adelaide, South Australia: University of South Australia. Available at: http://www.unisa.edu.au/Global/EASS/MnM/Publications/Australian_Muslims_Report_2015.pdf (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Ibrahim, F n d. Is Isa merely a Messenger or God incarnate? Answering-Islam. Available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Authors/Farooq_Ibrahim/incarnate.htm (Accessed 30 November 2015).

Leupold, H C 1971. Exposition of Isaiah (2 vols in 1). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.[22]

Markoe, L 2014. Muslim Scholars Release Open Letter To Islamic State Meticulously Blasting Its Ideology. Religion News Service, The Huffington Post Australia (online), 26 September. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/muslim-scholars-islamic-state_n_5878038.html?ir=Australia (Accessed 23 November 2015).

Martindale, C C 1908. Christmas. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Available at New Advent: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Mukasey, M B 2011. America’s most wanted, The Wall Street Journal (online), January 22. Available at: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703583404576079930494332352 (Accessed 26 November 2011).

Oxford Islamic Studies Online 2015. Spread of Islam, The. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t253/e17 (Accessed 8 December 2015).

Pennington, R 2008. What is the meaning of the word ‘Islam’? Muslim Voices, October 1. Available at: http://muslimvoices.org/word-islam-meaning/ (Accessed 1 December 2015).

Roberts, M 2010. Seeking the peace of Christ: Christianity and peacemaking. Patheos (online). Available at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/seeking-the-peace-of-christ-christianity-and-peacemaking/ (Accessed 30 November 2015).

Robertson, A T 1930. Word Pictures in the New Testament: The Gospel According to Matthew, The Gospel According to Mark, vol 1. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman Press.

Sales, L 2015. Reporter: H Cooper, ‘This is the man with the balance of power in NSW – Fred Nile’. Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), 7.30 (online), 16 April. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2015/s4218034.htm (Accessed 24 November 2015).

Sandeman, J 2014. Two Australian denominations face big challenges. Bible Society Live light (online), 11 July. Available at: http://www.biblesociety.org.au/news/two-australian-denominations-face-big-challenges (Accessed 1 December 2015).

SBS News 2014. Explainer: What is Daesh? What’s in a name? (online). Available at: http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/12/04/explainer-what-daesh-whats-name (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Shamoun, S n d. Is Allah the God of the Bible? Answering Islam (online). Available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Shamoun/god.htm (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Sookhdeo, P 2005. The myth of moderate Islam. The Spectator (online), 30 July. Available at: http://new.spectator.co.uk/2005/07/the-myth-of-moderate-islam/ (Accessed 28 November 2015).

Stowe, R 2000. Newark’s Disastrous Decline Under Spong: Post-Mortem of a Bishop’s Tenure. David Virtue (online), August 16. Available at: http://listserv.virtueonline.org/pipermail/virtueonline_listserv.virtueonline.org/2000-August/001571.html (Accessed 1 December 2015).

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Yavuz, M H 2009. Secularism and Muslim Democracy in Turkey. Cambridge Middle East Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (introduction available online at: http://assets.cambridge.org/97805218/88783/excerpt/9780521888783_excerpt.pdf (Accessed 26 November 2015).

Notes


[1] Most often the documentation from the Quran is given as Surah, which means chapter. However, throughout this article I will use Quran instead of Surah, for the benefit of non-Muslims.

[2] Christian Forums.net 2015. Christianity & Other Religions, ‘Islam – a religion of peace’, Classik#1. Available at: http://christianforums.net/Fellowship/index.php?threads/islam-a-religion-of-peace.62184/ (Accessed 1 December 2015). You’ll find a variation of this letter at: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=620333818078936&id=283008705144784; https://plus.google.com/103745661768802901128/posts/U7x62k3pHkK; an exact replica of this hand-written letter is on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/afsh_9/status/619263580484059136 and https://twitter.com/ehsankhaniyc/status/626771542160965632 (Accessed 1 December 2015).

[3] Christian Forums, ibid., gerbilgirl#6.

[4] Ibid., OzSpen#13.

[5] See Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. s v Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/biography/Recep-Tayyip-Erdogan (Accessed 26 November 2015).

[6] No pagination was given in the partial online edition from which this quote was obtained.

[7] The correct spelling is Tel Aviv.

[8] ABC News (Australia), 17 May 2011, reported, ‘Muslim group wants sharia law in Australia’ (online). Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-05-17/muslim-group-wants-sharia-law-in-australia/2717096 (Accessed 23 November 2015).

[9] There is an article by Bilveer Singh on ‘The challenge of militant Islam and terrorism in Indonesia’ (2010), but I do not have access to it.

[10] “Letters,” Journey, November 2007, p. 15. Journey is published by the Uniting Church in Australia, Queensland Synod.

[11] This information is gleaned with assistance from Thiessen (1949:138-140).

[12] ‘The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038…. Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts…. The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. about A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata I.21) says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ’s birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus…. Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help’ (Martindale 1908). However, where did the birthday celebration of December 25 originate? ‘Western Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25 in 336, after Emperor Constantine had declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion. Eastern churches, however, held on to January 6 as the date for Christ’s birth and his baptism. Most easterners eventually adopted December 25’ (Coffman 2008).

[13] Abrogation means, ‘to end or cancel (something) in a formal and official way: to fail to do what is required by (something, such as a responsibility)’ (Merriam-Webster Dictionary 2015. S v abrogation), available at: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/abrogation (Accessed 28 November 2015). This means that in the Quran, Muhammad’s revelation said to do one thing but in a few verses later or in other verses that teaching was called off; it was reversed. He changed his mind.

[14] Much of the material in this section is taken from Ibrahim (n d) who is a former Muslim who became a Christian convert by comparing the Islamic view of God and Jesus to that revealed in the Christian Scriptures.

[15] The footnote stated: ‘See Isa 13:10; 34:4; Joel 2:10’.

[16] The footnote stated, ‘“Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself’.

[17] The footnote stated, ‘See Dan 7:13’.

[18] The footnote stated, ‘Greek from the four winds’.

[19] Available at: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/sounds/Hymns/what_a_day_that_will_be.htm (Accessed 23 November 2015).

[20] Hadith, from the Arabic meaning ‘News’ or ‘Story, also spelled Hadit, was ‘a record of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, revered and received as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to the authority of the Quran’ (Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015. S v Hadith), available at: http://www.britannica.com/topic/Hadith (Accessed 28 November 2015).

[21] Islamic scholars differ concerning the meaning of Allah’s descent (see Haddad n d, pt 1).

[22] This was formerly published in 1968 in two volumes: (a) Exposition of Isaiah, Volume I (chs 1-39) and (b) Exposition of Isaiah, Volume II (chs 40-66).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 16 April 2016.

The bashing of Fred Nile’s views on ABC TV (Australia)

Friday, April 17th, 2015

By Spencer D Gear

The Reverend and Honourable
Fred Nile
MLC

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales

(courtesy Wikipedia)

Australian Broadcasting Corporation logoType
Statutory corporationAvailability
WorldwideHeadquarters
ABC Ultimo Centre
700 Harris Street
Ultimo 2007, SydneyBroadcast area: Australia

Owner
Government of Australia

(courtesy Wikipedia)

If you want to see the mass media bias against Christians, watch what secular journalists do to a politician who is an evangelical Christian operating from a biblical worldview in his or her policies. That’s what I saw on Thursday, 16 April 2015 in the Australian ABC TV programme, 7.30. See, ‘Fred Nile: Controversial Christian Democrat MP poised to hold balance of power in New South Wales parliament’.

Here the ABC proceeded to expose Fred Nile MP (Upper House, New South Wales parliament), who is ‘renowned for campaigning on social issues. He opposes gay marriage, gay adoption, Islamic face coverings, and wants limits on halal food in Australian supermarkets’. The ABC’s bagging of him continued, ‘But despite his long history of activism, he does not understand why some people call him controversial’.

Fred’s response was:

“It always surprises me, because I’m the most non-controversial person you could get,” he said.

“Everything I believe is just so – in my opinion – mainstream and ordinary.

“The only controversy comes because there are groups of people who oppose what I’m saying.”

Then 7.30 proceeded to expose Nile’s approach to Muslim immigration:

Rev Nile once called for a halt to Muslim immigration, and now he fears that a larger Islamic community will try to impose sharia law.

“There are some dangers that Australians should appreciate,” he said.

“Once [the Muslim population] gets to 5 per cent or 10 per cent, it’s not that the Australians change [but] the Muslims change and become more militant and more demanding.”

The opponents on ABC TV

So who does the ABC call on to oppose Fred Nile?

Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman Keysar Trad condemned Mr Nile’s statement.

“I’m very disappointed with Fred Nile’s contribution to New South Wales,” he said.

“As a man of God, as a Reverend, you’d expect him to be inclusive, you’d expect him to reach out with love and compassion and peace towards others.

“But what we’ve seen from him over the last couple of decades is vitriol, divisiveness and fear mongering about Islam and Muslims.”

Then there was Greens MP, John Kaye, who spruiked his opposition to Nile’s policies:

“Fred has always been the pilot fish of the lunar Right,” Greens MP John Kaye said.

“When homophobia was the cause of the day, Fred was right there as their man in parliament.

“Now it’s hatred of Muslims, and fear of Muslims, whether it’s mosques or halal food, Fred is their voice in parliament.”

Mr Kaye said he expected Rev Nile to vote with the Government on most issues.

“He is the Government’s patsy,” he said.

Enter illogical thinking

By calling Fred Nile ‘the pilot fish of the lunar Right’, John Kaye is using an ad hominem logical fallacy to put down Nile. What is a logical fallacy? It is illogic in action. But the journalist who did the interviewing of John Kaye did not call him for using such fallacious reasoning. If he called him to task, he could have said something like, ‘Why are you labelling Fred Nile’s character and actions when you should be dealing with the truth or falsity of his claims about homosexuality, Muslim immigration, halal food and mosques? That’s false reasoning that you are using’. Hearing that from an ABC journalist would send this viewer into an unnatural tizzy fit. The ABC, based on my past listening and viewing, is not in the habit of giving favourable coverage to Christians who are engaged in the public culture.

Does this contemporary journalist not have the common sense to know what John Kaye did in that kind of response? Kaye did not deal with the issues Nile is raising and their impact on Australian society.

The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fallacies

The supporters on ABC TV?

Who would you think that ABC TV’s 7.30 would bring in support of Fred Nile so that there would be ‘balance’ in the programme? Outside of his wife, there was

Not a soul. Not one! clip_image002[4] clip_image003[4] clip_image004[4]

The ABC receives approximately $6.61 billion (over 5 years) in Australian government funding to run its broadcast operations. There are many Christians who live in Australia, so who would any journalist worth his salt choose to engage positively with Fred Nile’s views? There was not a single person. So, I sent

A complaint

This is the online bellyache I had against the ABC and its bias:[1]

I’ve just watched your 7.30 programme featuring Fred Nile and his wife in which you proceed to bag Fred Nile for the things he stands for. This was a classic example of ABC bigotry towards this Christian parliamentarian. Who did you choose to oppose him? A Greens MP who proceeded to slam him for what he wants to do about Islamic migration and Fred’s support for the James Packer casino.

If the ABC was to present a balanced programme I’d just about have a heart attack. For every one who opposed Fred on 7.30, you should be presenting one in favour of Fred’s views. That would at least be fair. But Leigh Sales had only the bag in hand to bash Fred Nile’s views.

I’m tired of the bigotry that the ABC presents against those who don’t support the ABC’s agenda. If you did to a Muslim, what you did to Fred, you’d have a Jihad on your hands. But you think that it’s perfectly OK to bash Fred Nile, a Christian, while you receive $2 billion[2] in funding from the Federal Govt. It’s time that the ABC learned what fairness and justice are about.

You slammed Fred Nile with your dose of injustice. What will 7.30 do to change its approach to people who have views with which it disagrees?

P.S. I don’t live in NSW so I can’t vote for Fred Nile but as a Christian, I found what you did to be utterly offensive.

I omitted to mention that one other opponent was featured on 7.30, Islamic Friendship Association Spokesman, Keysar Trad.

The ABC’s reply

How do you think that ABC would reply to what I emailed to them? Well, I’m not allowed to tell you. But I can say, from my perspective, it was not favourable towards the content of my complaint to it about Fred Nile’s views.

But it did make sure that I couldn’t tell you exactly what it said, by making this claim at the end of the email received from a person at ABC’s ‘Audience and Consumer Affairs’ on 20 April 2015. It stated:

The information contained in this email and any attachment is confidential and may contain legally privileged or copyright material. It is intended only for the use of the addressee(s). If you are not the intended recipient of this email, you are not permitted to disseminate, distribute or copy this email or any attachments. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete this email from your system. The ABC does not represent or warrant that this transmission is secure or virus free. Before opening any attachment you should check for viruses. The ABC’s liability is limited to resupplying any email and attachments.

I can’t even give you my response to this reply because I included some quotes from the ABCs reply.

Conclusion

The overall emphasis of the 7.30 story on Fred Nile was to paint this politician who could hold the balance of power as an extremist who doesn’t represent what the Greens MP or the Islamic association promotes.

There’s a lesson here for all Christians who want to engage in public issues through cultural apologetics. Be prepared for antagonistic bashing from mass media journalists and their producers.

New South Wales Legislative Council (55th Parliament)

Coat of arms or logo

Upper house (since 1856) of the Parliament of New South Wales

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

Notes


[1] I sent this via an online complaints form to the ABC on Thursday, 16 April 2015, and at my request I received a copy of my complaint by email reply. I await a response from the ABC, but I’m not holding my breath expecting them to do anything by way of change of editorial policy. However, they need to hear my protests and reasons for it.

[2] Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, on his website stated, ‘the Government’s continued investment in national broadcasting of more than $6.61 billion over the same five year period’ (FAQs on ABC and SBS, 19 December 2014, Malcolm Turnbull MP).

 

Copyright © 2015 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 21 November 2015.

Christian apologist DOES NOT like challenges to his views

Monday, November 17th, 2014

WashingtonNationalCathedralHighsmith15393v.jpg

Washington National Cathedral (image courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

What should we do when men are not as active as they could be in Christian public causes? An eminent Australian Christian apologist took on this topic with some provocative language in his own blog. Is his kind of language the way to get more men off their butts to become involved in taking a public stand for Christ and Christian issues?

Why are there not enough activist Christian men?

This Christian apologist dealt with an important Christian issue in the Episcopalian National Cathedral in Washington DC that had Muslims conduct an Islamic prayer service in the Cathedral. These prayers would have been in Arabic with content unknown to English speakers present.[1] You can read more in, Woman proclaiming Christ ejected from Muslim prayers at National Cathedral. This report stated:

But someone threw a rotting cabbage on their lovely sofa, as DCist laments: “And because love, respect and understanding is [sic] too much of a concept for some people to understand, a person interrupted the service. Of course.” Still, the spectacle of a woman being forcibly ejected from what is ostensibly a Christian cathedral for proclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord just before Muslim prayers are about to begin is at very least evidence that we live in strange times.[2]

This objection in the Cathedral was by ‘a brave Christian woman’ whose name is believed to be Christine. Of her, the apologist stated:

Well one brave Christian woman refused to just sit by and do nothing. She went in there and fearlessly proclaimed Christian truth. “Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour” she boldly proclaimed. And she was thrown out of this Christian church for daring to say this! Go Figure.[3]

What did the apologist have to say for the activist woman (and another female activist in a different situation)?

Fearless Christian women[4]

This is some of his language:

  • Why is it that ‘it is Christian women who lead the charge?’
  • ‘These fearless and totally committed Christian women’;
  • ‘Courageous women standing up and being counted’;
  • ‘Remember earlier this year the same thing happened in a church in Germany. Muslims were leading their demonic religious worship there, when a brave Christian woman, Heidi Mund stood up to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Lordship’;

But what about the men? Where were they?

Give non-activist Christian men a rev

What about those non-involved Christian men? This was his language in giving them a rev to hopefully get them involved:

  • ‘I am ashamed to be a Christian male to be honest’ (because of these non-activist men);
  • ‘All the pansy girly-men cower behind their [women’s] skirts’;
  • ‘We need some men with backbone – men with some Holy Ghost boldness to take back what the devil has stolen’;
  • ‘Enough of all these wimps for Jesus and spineless wonders’;
  • ‘Now more than ever we need real men – real Christian men – to stand, to fight, and to do valiantly for our God’;
  • ‘The absence of godly men who will fearlessly stand up for Jesus in crunch times. Why do we always seem to get Holy Ghost-empowered women fighting the good fight, while all these craven weenies just sit at home and watch Top Gear?’

Is that the way to motivate men for involvement or is that a way to get under their skin?

Gutless, spineless men

I had had enough of reading his assault on Christian men with so many inflammatory comments, so I sent this reply.[5]

Thank you for drawing this critical issue to our attention. We do have Aussie men who stand for Christ and against unjust causes. Who could be more of a hero than Graham Preston who has gone to jail for protesting outside abortion clinics in his endeavour to try to save the lives of unborn children? Here’s an interview with him: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Siot-HkRolk

Rev Hon Fred Nile MLC.JPG

Fred Nile, Member of the Legislative Council, New South Wales, Australia (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

Rev Fred Nile has taken more than his share of antagonism from the media and people in our society. The onslaught he received on Q&A from 4 antagonists (May 28, 2013) in a mass media forum was a horrible event to behold. He’s a brave, gutsy man who has stood up for the cause of Christ over many years in the public arena.

I do not find it helpful that this apologist damned men with this kind of language:

I for one have had a gutful of these cowardly, spineless wonders who profess to be Christians but do nothing for Jesus, say nothing for Jesus, and risk nothing for Jesus. They are cowards and fakes, and I want nothing to do with them. It is time for all true soldiers of Jesus Christ to arise and go to battle.[6]

That kind of hyperbolic put down could contain many errors. Who[7] are you to say that men who don’t speak up are ‘cowardly, spineless wonders’ who are ‘cowards and fakes’? That is engaging in the use of an ad hominem logical fallacy. The pejorative term, ‘dhimmis’, is not a good one to call men to active involvement. ‘Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenous non-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination’.[8]

I, for one, have engaged in many Christian activist causes over many[9] years. I can no longer do it because of major health issues. You don’t know this kind of information.

There are a couple other factors:

(1) Not all people have your, Christine’s or Heidi’s gifts to be able to make coherent, public stands for Christian causes.

(2) What is the church of Jesus Christ here in Australia doing to equip its people in the apologetic tasks of dealing with the enemies we face in the media, high schools, universities, work places, and on the streets? ‘To equip the saints for the work of ministry’ (Eph 4:12) should get a lot more emphasis in our Aussie churches.

Norman Geisler has written about this desperate need in, ‘An Apologetic for Apologetics’.

This apologist’s defensive response

The apologist did not like the content of what I wrote. His response included these points:[10]

He didn’t buy my complaint, claiming he was ‘in good company with those who spoke truth boldly and strongly and without apology. As I just read today in Acts 13:9-11’:

“Then Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked straight at Elymas and said, “You are a child of the devil and an enemy of everything that is right! You are full of all kinds of deceit and trickery. Will you never stop perverting the right ways of the Lord? Now the hand of the Lord is against you. You are going to be blind for a time, not even able to see the light of the sun.”

His claim was that these are ‘very strong words’ where ‘the prophets, Jesus, and the disciples were all unafraid to use the strongest of language as they rebuked error, cowardice and falsehood. As I keep telling my critics, if you don’t like what I write here, no one is forcing you to come here. And given that I have had plenty of other Christians give me a hearty amen on all this, I will keep doing what I am doing, and I will keep calling out the girlie men, whether some like it or not’.

  • As for the ‘dhimmi’ word, he claimed he was 100% accurate and was using a proper term. However, he is not using it in a proper way when he uses it to put down men.
  • He had one commendation for me: ‘You are right on the need of more apologetics’.

Censorship of my reply

(image courtesy, clker.com)

What do you think he would do with my reply to these points of rebuttal? This is the reply that I sent to Culture Watch to respond to Bill:

Your using Paul’s confrontation of the magician, Elymas (Acts 13:9-11), is not a parallel to the complaint I used about the language you used against ‘cowardly, spineless, wonders’ of men who do not engage in the public confrontation as you and others do.

My complaint was about the kind of language you used that could intimidate men. Paul was confronting the demonic.
I didn’t find your response welcoming of the need to possibly reconsider how you engage with motivation of Christian blokes. The use of ad hominem logical fallacies prevents logical discussion.

I sent that response at 6.01pm, Saturday, 15 November 2014. It had not been published by 1.36pm, Monday 17 November 2014.[11] Normally, the apologist publishes the responses within 30 minutes or at least within an hour or two. I now conclude that my view in this last response has been censored by Bill Muehlenberg.

Try mediocre letters to the editor

A fellow responded to my post with these comments:

  • We do need good men who are prepared to stand up, but Bill’s point is valid that women are more likely to do this.
  • Some men have good reasons for not being able to take a stand.
  • When Bill says he has had a gutful of ‘cowardly, spineless, wonders’ of Christian men who do not risk for Jesus, he is not referring to all blokes.
  • Implicitly, he is saying that there are too many like that. Graham Preston and Fred Nile are exceptions.
  • As to my stating that not all people are gifted to make coherent, public stands for Christian causes, he reminded me of Moses who told God the same thing. God used him in spite of his lack of vocal gifts.
  • What we need are people who speak up rather than people who speak well.
  • ‘A well-written, well-argued, letter to the editor of a newspaper will probably fail to impress anybody who is not already on side. But 100 mediocre letters will have a much bigger impression, simply because too many people these days go along with public opinion over rational argument’.
  • For a blog or newspaper column, a well-written article is important but in other contexts we need people to speak up. That’s what is needed.
  • He agreed with my point that the church needs to equip people for this kind of ministry.[12]

This is how I responded to this content.

Mediocre not good enough

I sent this reply online at 7.05am, 16 November 2014. As of 12.58pm, 17 November 2014 it had not been published online.[13]

Philip, how do we know the number of women vs men who stand up for Christian causes? Where is the evidence that more women do this than men? When we see valid research on this, then we will be able to make more objective assessments. To this point, I have not seen such research. Do you know where I can locate such?

You want to compare the ‘cowardly, spineless wonders’ of men with Moses and his inability to speak. I don’t find that to be an equal comparison. Moses was called to an extra-special job. You say, ‘What we need most is people who speak up, more than people who speak well’. That’s nice in theory, but if we want to gain and hold people’s attention, some competence and connection are needed.

You talk about ‘a well-written, well-argued, letter to the editor of a newspaper will probably fail to impress anybody who is not already on side. But 100 mediocre letters will have a much bigger impression’. I don’t have evidence to support that statement. But this I do know: The chances of getting mediocre letters published is very low. If you don’t believe me, try sending a mediocre letter to The Age, Sydney Morning Herald or even your local freebie. I know people have done that over and over and are still waiting for the letter to be published. As a Christian, I’m not of the view that we should accept mediocre standards.

Who are among the leading contemporary apologists?

Ravi Zacharias.jpg

Ravi Zacharias (image courtesy Wikipedia)

I have a considerable section in my library by contemporary Christian apologists. These include: Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, Ron Brooks, Ron Rhodes, Lee Strobel, C. S. Lewis, John Warwick Montgomery, Josh McDowell, R C Sproul, John Gerstner, Arthur Lindsley, Gary Habermas, Paul Feinberg, Kelly James Clark, David K. Clark, Gordon Clark, Russ Bush, Winfried Corduan, J. P. Moreland, Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli, Stephen Gaukroger, Edward John Carnell, John Blanchard, and Os Guinness.

JP Moreland.jpg

J. P. Moreland (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

All of these are male and they have been active in the public arena for many years. Only one female is among them on my bookshelf – Dorothy Sayers. The facts are that public and prominent apologists for the Christian faith around the world in recent decades and through the centuries have been male rather than female.

However, a legitimate argument could be that this was during the era when women were supposed to remain silent in the church and their public ministries (including apologetics) must be done with women only and not with a mixed group. Such an atmosphere did not prohibit Dorothy Sayers from becoming an eminent British writer and apologist for the faith.

I have become aware recently of the International Society for Women in Apologetics. The women apologists involved in this organisation are listed on the right hand side of the webpage and there are links to these women, including: Sarah Ankenman (The Valley Girl Apologist), Mary Jo Sharp (Confident Christianity), Judy Salisbury (Logos Presentations), and Nancy Pearcey (The Pearcey Report). Here is an interview with Mary Jo Sharp.

Christianity Today published an article in May 2012 by Jonalyn Fincher, ‘Where Are All the Women Apologists?’ She states that ‘Like women wrestlers, women apologists are curiosities’. I urge you to take a read of this brief article to gain a woman’s perspective on the need to be involved with apologetics. The article states,

In 2010, Sharp debated a Muslim woman in a Toronto mosque where both men and women were allowed to attend. This was a rare opportunity. Muslim women are often prohibited from dialogue with men outside their family or mosque. “Christian apologetics,” Sharp explained, “will need women skilled in Islamic apologetics to speak with Muslim women, to go where Christian men cannot.”

See why Christine Weick did what she did at the Washing Cathedral with her brief protest that had her ejected from the Cathedral. See, ‘Christian booted from National Cathedral speaks out’. Part of her protest, as stated in this article, was:

“Jesus Christ died on that cross. He is the reason we are to worship only Him. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior,” she said. “We have built …allowed you your mosques in this country. Why don’t you worship in your mosques and leave our churches alone? We are a country founded on Christian principles.”

Here is another clip of what she did. See HERE.

Conclusion

To say that more women than men are standing up for Christ in the public arena is yet to be proven to me. The apologetic task down through the centuries and especially in recent decades has been done primarily by men.

One of the issues this article addresses is: Consistency demands that an apologist (who defends the Christian faith against religious alternatives) needs to have his or her own views open to challenge and defence. That was not my experience over this last weekend with this Australian apologist.

Works consulted

Muehlenberg, B 2014. Away with spineless Christian men. Culture Watch (online), 15 November. Available at: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/11/15/away-with-you-spineless-christian-men/#comments (Accessed 15 November 2014).

Spencer R 2014. Woman proclaiming Christ ejected from Muslim prayers at National Cathedral. Jihad Watch (online), 14 November. Available at: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2014/11/woman-proclaiming-christ-ejected-from-muslim-prayers-at-national-cathedral (Accessed 16 November 2014).

Notes


[1] Bill Muehlenberg (2014).

[2] Robert Spencer (2014)

[3] Muehlenberg (2014).

[4] Muehlenberg (2014).

[5] Spencer Gear, 15 November 2014 5pm. In Muehlenberg (2014).

[6] Muehlenberg (2014).

[7] Originally I used the incorrect, ‘Why’.

[8] ‘Dhimmitude: The status of non-Muslim minorities under Islamic rule’ (online), available at: http://www.dhimmitude.org/ (Accessed 15 November 2014).

[9] I originally had a typo, ‘man’.

[10] Muehlenberg (2014) comment, 15 November 2014, 5pm.

[11] This has happened previously for me with Bill Muehlenberg when I’ve sent a response to his reply (generally a second reply that I’ve sent) and he has not published the second reply, which was a critique of his view. I find it disappointing that a prominent Australian Christian cultural apologist who challenges cultural antagonism towards the Christian faith, is not prepared to accept and then publish my challenges to his views on his website. I appreciate that ‘Culture Watch’ is his own website and he has the privilege of deciding who is published. However, openness to criticism is surely one of the important dimensions of any apologist’s work.

[12] Philip J Rayment, 16 November 2014 12am, in Muehlenberg (2014).

[13] See Muehlenberg (2014).

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 1 May 2016.

Does the Bible support slavery?

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

Photograph of a slave boy in Zanzibar. ‘An Arab master’s punishment for a slight offence. ‘ c. 1890 (photograph ourtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

Claims are made that the Bible supports slavery and that the people of contemporary culture should be able to choose their own values. Here are a few examples of such statements:

  • ‘If you are truthful to the Bible, would you not agree with me that St Paul supports slavery while we today are dead opposed to it? That morality even in the Bible has changed?’ (Greneknight #64, Christian Forums, 22 August 2012)
  • ‘Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do.  Yet slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments.  The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves. Many Jews and Christians will try to ignore the moral problems of slavery by saying that these slaves were actually servants or indentured servants.  Many translations of the Bible use the word “servant”, “bondservant”, or “manservant” instead of “slave” to make the Bible seem less immoral than it really is.  While many slaves may have worked as household servants, that doesn’t mean that they were not slaves who were bought, sold, and treated worse than livestock (‘Slavery in the Bible’, Evil Bible.com).
  • ‘If the Bible is written by God, and these are the words of the Lord, then you can come to only one possible conclusion: God is an impressive advocate of slavery and is fully supportive of the concept.

If you are a Christian, I realize that what I am about to suggest is uncomfortable. However, it is crucial to the conversation that we are having in this book. What I wish to suggest to you is that these pro-slavery passages in the Bible provide all the evidence that we need to prove that God did not write the Bible. Simply put: there is no way that an all-loving God would also be a staunch supporter of slavery.

What does your common sense tell you about God? Doesn’t it seem that an all-loving, just God would think of slavery as an abomination just like any normal human being does? If any sort of all-knowing, all-loving God had written the Bible, shouldn’t the Bible say, “Slavery is wrong — you may have no slaves”? Shouldn’t one of the Commandments say, “thou shalt not enslave”?’ (Why does God love slavery?)

A glimpse into the Old Testament view

In the Old Testament, there were at least 6 ways in which a person could become a slave:

  1. As a captive of war: Num 31:7-35 (ESV); Deut 20:10-18 (ESV); 1 Ki 20:39; 2 Chron 28:8-15);
  2. They could be purchased. Foreigners could be purchased and sold and were considered property: Lev 25:44-46 (ESV); Ex 21:16Deut 24:7. The OT gives examples of a father selling his daughter (Ex 21:7; Neh 5:5); children of a widow were sold to pay her husband’s debt (2 Kings 4:11); men and women sold themselves into slavery (Lev 25:39, 47; Deut 15:12-17).
  3. Bankruptcy (Ex 21:2-4; Deut 15:12);
  4. A gift of a slave could be given as Leah received Zilpah as her slave (Gen 29:24).
  5. As an inheritance: Lev 25:46 (ESV). Those who were not Hebrews could be slaves from generation to generation.
  6. Those slaves from birth (Ex 21:4; Lev 25:54) (This material is based on Rupprecht 1976:454-455.)

Slavery was widespread in the secular and Hebrew world of the Near East. For the Hebrews, there were regulations concerning the release of slaves (see Ex 21:1-11; Lev 25:39-55; Deut 15:12-18). Slaves were to be freed after serving for 6 years.

For the Hebrews, the slaves were members of the household and were included with the group of women and children (Ex 20:17).

In Gal 4:1, Paul states, ‘the heir, as long as he is a child is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything’. When we go to Gal 4:7 we discover, ‘So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God’.

There are some interesting and challenging dimensions to slavery when we compare the OT and NT material.

How should we respond to these allegations?

The following is how I responded to Greneknight, as OzSpen #65, 22 August 2012.

There are some excellent assessments and I do not plan to regurgitate what others have said. See:

Concerning ‘1 Corinthians 7:17, 20 Remain in Slavery?’ (Hard Sayings of the Bible 1996. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, pp. 591-593), this writer’s assessment was:

The difficulty with which 1 Corinthians 7:17 and 20 present us arises primarily from the surrounding verses in the paragraph (1 Cor 7:17-24). In 1 Corinthians 7:21 the situation chosen as an illustration is that of slavery. In 1 Corinthians 7:17 the various situations in which persons found themselves when they were called to faith in Christ are understood as assigned or apportioned by the Lord, and they are told to remain in those situations. That instruction is given further weight in the sentence “This is the rule I lay down in all the churches” (1 Cor 7:17).
In light of these statements, Paul has often been charged not only with failure to condemn the evil system of slavery, but indeed with abetting the status quo. These charges can be demonstrated to be invalid when the paragraph which contains this text is seen within the total context of 1 Corinthians 7 and in light of the historical situation as Paul perceived it.

In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul is dealing with questions about marriage, the appropriate place for sexual expression, the issue of divorce and remarriage, all in response to a pervasive view in the church which rejected or demeaned the physical dimension of male-female relationships. In the immediately preceding paragraph (1 Cor 7:12-16), Paul’s counsel to believers who are married to unbelievers is twofold: (1) If the unbelieving partner is willing to remain in the marriage, the believer should not divorce (and thus reject) the unbelieving partner; for that person’s willingness to live with the believer may open him or her to the sanctifying power of God’s grace through the believing partner (1 Cor 7:12-14). (2) If the unbeliever does not want to remain in the union, he or she should be released from the marriage. Though the partner may be sanctified through the life and witness of the believer, there is no certainty, especially when the unbeliever desires separation (1 Cor 7:15-16).

Having recognized the possibility, and perhaps desirability, of this exception to his general counsel against divorce, Paul reaffirms what he considers to be the norm (“the rule I lay down in all the churches”): that one should remain in the life situation the Lord has assigned and in which one has been called to faith (1 Cor 7:17). In light of exceptions to general norms throughout this chapter, it is probably unwise to take the phrase “the place in life that the Lord has assigned” too literally and legalistically, as if each person’s social or economic or marital status had been predetermined by God. Rather, Paul’s view seems to be similar to the one Jesus takes with regard to the situation of the blind man in John 9. His disciples inquire after causes: Is the man blind because he sinned or because his parents sinned (Jn 9:2)? Jesus’ response is essentially that the man’s blindness is, within the overall purposes of God, an occasion for the work of God to be displayed (Jn 9:3).

For Paul, the life situations in which persons are encountered by God’s grace and come to faith are situations which, in God’s providence, can be transformed and through which the gospel can influence others (such as unbelieving partners).

The principle “remain in the situation” is now given broader application to human realities and situations beyond marriage. The one addressed first is that of Jews and Gentiles (1 Cor 7:18-19). The outward circumstances, Paul argues, are of little or no significance (“Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing”). They neither add to nor detract from one’s calling into a relationship with God, and therefore one’s status as Jew or Gentile should not be altered. (It should be noted here that under the pressure of Hellenization, some Jews in the Greek world sought to undo their circumcision [1 Maccabees 1:15]. And we know from both Acts and Galatians that Jewish Christians called for the circumcision of Gentile Christians.)

Once again, it is clear that the general norm, “remain in the situation,” is not an absolute law. Thus we read in Acts 16:3 that Paul, in light of missionary needs and strategy, had Timothy circumcised even though Timothy was already a believer. Paul’s practice in this case would be a direct violation of the rule which he laid down for all the churches (1 Cor 7:17-18), but only if that rule had been intended as an absolute.

Paul now repeats the rule “Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him” (1 Cor 7:20), and applies it to yet another situation, namely, that of the slave. Paul does not simply grab a hypothetical situation, for the early church drew a significant number of persons from the lower strata of society (see 1 Cor 1:26-27). So Paul addresses individuals in the congregation who were of the large class of slaves existing throughout the ancient world: “Were you a slave when you were called?” (that is, when you became a Christian). The next words, “Do not let it trouble you,” affirm that the authenticity of the person’s new life and new status as the Lord’s “freedman” (1 Cor 7:21-22) cannot be demeaned and devalued by external circumstances such as social status.

As in the previous applications of the norm (“remain in the situation”), Paul immediately allows for a breaking of the norm; indeed, he seems to encourage it: “although if you can gain your freedom, do so” (1 Cor 7:21; note the RSV rendering: “avail yourself of the opportunity”). As footnotes in some contemporary translations indicate (TEV, RSV), it is possible to translate the Greek of verse 21 as “make use of your present condition instead,” meaning that the slave should not take advantage of this opportunity, but rather live as a transformed person within the context of continuing slavery. Some scholars support this rendering, since it would clearly illustrate the norm laid down in the previous verse. However, we have already noted that Paul provides contingencies for much of his instruction in chapter 7, and there is no good reason to doubt that Paul supported the various means for emancipation of individual slaves that were available in the Greco-Roman world.

And yet, Paul’s emphasis in the entire chapter, as in the present passage, is his conviction that the most critical issue in human life and relations and institutions is the transformation of persons’ lives by God’s calling. External circumstances can neither take away from, nor add to, this reality. The instruction to remain in the situation in which one is called to faith (which Paul repeats several more times, in 1 Cor 7:24, 26, 40, and for which he also grants contingencies, in 1 Cor 7:28, 36, 38) can be understood as a missiological principle. To remain in the various situations addressed by Paul provides opportunity for unhindered devotion and service to the Lord (1 Cor 7:32-35), or transforming witness toward an unbelieving marriage partner (1 Cor 7:12-16), or a new way of being present in the context of slavery as one who is free in Christ (1 Cor 7:22-23).

The transforming possibilities of this latter situation are hinted at elsewhere in Paul’s writings. Masters who have become believers are called on to deal with their slaves in kindness and to remember that the Master who is over them both sees both as equals (Eph 6:9). The seeds of the liberating gospel are gently sown into the tough soil of slavery. They bore fruit in the lives of Onesimus, the runaway slave, and Philemon, his master. The slave returns to the master, no longer slave but “brother in the Lord” (Philem 15-16).

Note too that the three relational spheres which Paul addresses in 1 Corinthians 7–male-female, Jew-Gentile (Greek), slave-free–are brought together in that high-water mark of Paul’s understanding of the transforming reality of being in Christ: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). As a rabbi, Paul had given thanks daily, as part of the eighteen benedictions to God, that he had not been born as a Gentile, a slave or a woman. It was his experience of Christ that led him to recognize that these distinctions of superior and inferior were abolished in the new order of things inaugurated in Christ. Surely in this vision the seeds were sown for the ultimate destruction of slavery and all other forms of bondage.

Finally, Paul’s understanding of the historical situation in which he and the church found themselves provides another key for his instruction that believers should remain where they are. He, together with most other Christians, was convinced that the eschaton, the climax of God’s redemptive intervention, was very near. Statements in 1 Cor 7:26 (“because of the present crisis”) and 1 Cor 7:29 (“the time is short”) underline that conviction. This belief created a tremendous missionary urgency. The good news had to get out so that as many as possible could yet be saved (see 1 Cor 10:33). This expectation of the imminent end was surely an important factor for the Pauline norm “remain where you are.”

The biblical view of slavery might be wrong in the estimation of some contemporary Christians, but God did not have such a view when he breathed out the Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Response to the allegations against the Bible and slavery

There is an eerie silence by Jesus, the apostles and Paul in regard to rejecting slavery in a society. I would have thought that Jesus, the sinless Son of God, should have been condemning slavery outright – racial slavery like that in the USA — but this was not so. Why?[1]

  • Please don’t assign a barbaric, violent, unjust view of slaves to the Romans. Paul’s word to slave masters was that they should treat slaves with kindness and consideration (Eph. 6:9; Col. 4:1).
  • Slavery had become a well-known way to become a Roman citizen throughout the Empire;
  • One study found that between 81-49 BC, “500,000 slaves were freed [by the Romans] during this period” and the city of Rome’s population was about 870,000.[2]
  • In the Roman Empire, a slave could expect freedom in about 7 years.
  • “When a master freed his slave, he frequently established his freedman in a business and the master became a shareholder in it.”[3]
  • “While an individual was a slave, he was in most respects equal to his freeborn counterpart in the Graeco-Roman world, and in some respects he had an advantage. By the first century A.D. the slave had most of the legal rights which were granted to a free man.”[4]
  • “Living conditions for most slaves were better than those of free men who often slept in the streets of the city or lived in very cheap rooms.”[5]
  • “The free laborer in NT times was seldom in better circumstances than his slave counterpart.”[6]
  • “In fact, in time of economic hardship it was the slave and not the free man who was guaranteed the necessities of life for himself and his family.”[7]

Islam and slavery

Do not confuse the Christian view of slavery in the Old and New Testaments with the contemporary view of ‘Islam & Slavery’ (Barnabas Fund). That article provides this conclusion:

Many Muslims agree that there is no place for slavery in the modern world, but there has as yet been no sustained critique of the practice. The difficulties and dangers of confronting the example of Muhammad and the teaching of the Qur’an and sharia (which most Muslims believe cannot be changed) have dampened any internal debate within Islam. Although slavery still exists in many Islamic countries, few Muslim leaders show remorse for the past, discuss reparations or show that repugnance for the scourge of slavery that eventually led to its abolition in the West. It is time for Muslims emphatically and publicly to condemn the practice of slavery in any form and to ensure that their legal codes An enslaved Pakistani Christian boy supporting it are changed.

Barnabas Fund: hope and aid for the persecuted church

Conclusion

I do not subscribe to the relativistic presuppositions of cultures determining their own values. I have too high of a respect for the Lord God Almighty and His Scriptures to secede to that view. This is what the Scriptures state:

  • Isaiah 5:20, ‘ Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!’ (ESV)
  • Psalm 111:7-8, ‘The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy; they are established for ever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness’ (ESV).
  • Proverbs 3:5, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding’.
  • Ecclesiastes 12;13, ‘Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind’ (NIV).
  • John 17:17, ‘Sanctify them in the truth;your word is truth’ (ESV).
  • 1 Peter 1:25, ‘The word of the Lord remains for ever’ (ESV)
  • James 2:12, ‘Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom’ (NIV)

Notes:


[1] The following is based on the article by A. Rupprecht, ‘Slave, Slavery’, in Merrill C. Tenney gen. ed. 1976, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 5, Q-Z, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, pp. 453-460.

[2] Ibid., p. 458.

[3] Ibid., p. 459.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., p. 460.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

 

Copyright © 2014 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 29 October 2015.

Three Crosses on Horizontal Bar

ChristArt

The wrath of God and Muammar Gaddafi’s death

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

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Gaddafi in death, courtesy of InformationNigeria.org

By Spencer D Gear

Is the death of Muammar Gaddafi an example of the wrath of God in action? In the brief article from Nigeria, ‘Muammar Gaddafi is dead??‘, there was a comment, ‘Any tongue dat shall rise against Nigeria shall be destroyed in Jesus name. So I advise our politicians to beware bcos d wrath of God can fall on any one who does not want PEACE for Nigeria’. There was a Nigerian news item from Information Nigeria, ‘Fleeing Gaddafi forces, officials stray into Northern Nigeria’.[1]

The exact date of Gaddafi’s murder is not known, but the British Guardian newspaper reported, ‘Muammar Gaddafi is dead says Libyan PM‘, on Thursday, 20 October 2011. This is an example of some of the horror that happens in our human world. But is it the wrath of God in action?

As we shall see, this is a dangerous view to state that the wrath of God can be experienced by those who do not want peace with Nigeria. The wrath of God contains much more substance than this fleeting comment by a letter-to-the editor, following the death of this dictator, even though he was known for his violence and injustice. We need to get it clear that God’s wrath is serious and not associated with peace for Nigeria. It is associated with peace between rebel human beings and God. Why would I call all people rebels? A rebel is ‘one who refuses allegiance to , resists, or rises in arms against the established government or ruler’ (The Macquarie Dictionary 1997:1776). All human beings are rebels against the law of God.

It’s a biblical fact:

Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practise homosexuality, enslavers,[2] liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound[3] doctrine (1 Tim. 1:8-10)

Jeremiah 17:9 affirms that ‘The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?’ Remember Jonathan Edwards famous sermon preached in 1741 , ‘Sinners in the hands of an angry God‘?

What is the wrath of God?

Do we have a description of the wrath of God and have we seen it in action historically? It is important to understand that the wrath of God is as essential an attribute of God’s nature as his love and justice.

We know from 1 John 4:8 that ‘God is love’. ‘God’s love means that God eternally gives of himself to others’ (Grudem 1994:198).

What about God’s justice?

In English, there are two different words for righteousness and justice, but in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament there is only one word group to cover the meaning of ‘righteousness’ and ‘justice’ (Grudem 1994:203). Remember how Moses described God’s actions? God, ‘the Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he’ (Deut. 32:4). Abraham made a successful petition to God’s character (attribute) of justice: ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ (Gen. 18:25). God himself stated, ‘The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart’ (Psalm 19:8a) and ‘I the Lord speak the truth; I declare what is right’ (Isa. 45:19b).

The wrath of God is as much an outworking of the nature of God as God’s righteousness/justice.

When I speak of the anger/wrath of God, I mean that God ‘intensely hates all sin’ (Grudem 1994:206) and acts towards such sin in his own unique way. We see evidence of the outworking of God’s wrath in the Scriptures when God’s people sinned against God. When God saw the idolatry of the Israelites in Moses’ day, the Lord God said to Moses,

“I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you” (Ex. 32:9-10).

Another example is in Deut. 9:7-8,

Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you.

The wrath of God is not only an attribute of God that is demonstrated by OT actions, but we have this warning from the NT, ‘ Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him’ (John 3:36) and ‘For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth’ (Rom. 1:18).

Therefore, all who do not experience eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, will experience the wrath of God. Therefore, since Gaddafi, who to my knowledge did not experience salvation through Jesus Christ alone, he will now be experiencing the wrath of God. However, we do not know what Gaddafi decided to do in the last minutes and seconds of his life. Only God knows that.

This experience of the wrath of God applies to ALL who have not committed their lives to Jesus Christ for salvation. John 3:36 is definite: Eternal life (Christian salvation) is experienced only by those who continue to believe in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. Acts 4:11-12 could not be clearer:

This Jesus[4] is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

What’s the difference between the essence of God and the attributes of God?

How do we determine what is an ‘attribute’ of God? The attributes of God have a foundation, and that is the nature of God. Formerly, this was called the ‘essence’ or ‘substance’ of God. Essence and substance are used synonymously here. I prefer to use the term ‘nature’ of God as synonymous with essence/substance. Thiessen defines God’s essence as ‘that which underlies all outward manifestation; the reality itself, whether material or immaterial’ and the attributes are an outworking of this essence (1949:119). So, an attribute is an action that is a manifestation of the essence of some thing or person.

However, there are times when attributes look like essence. H. B. Smith noted this when he recognised that some things that are labelled as attributes, could be, ‘strictly speaking’, a different aspect of the divine substance (in Thiessen 1949:119).

In this aspect of the essence of God that some see as not referring to attributes but essence, we are speaking of God’s spirituality, his being immaterial and incorporeal (without a body), invisible, alive and a person. Other aspects of God’s essence are his self-existence, immensity, and eternity (Thiessen 1949:119-123).

It is important to note that God’s attributes are a permanent outworking from His nature. ‘The attributes are permanent qualities. They cannot be gained or lost. They are intrinsic…. God’s attributes are essential and inherent dimensions of his very nature’ (Millard Erickson 1985:265).

While this differentiation is helpful, there is a fundamental aspect of the essence of God that needs to be clarified as a foundation. This is the fact that ‘God eternally exists as three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and each person is fully God, and there is one God’ (Wayne Grudem 1994:226). Grudem summarises this aspect of the essence of the nature of God as a Trinity:

  • God is three persons.
  • Each person is fully God.
  • There is one God (Grudem 1994:230).

Since God’s wrath will be experienced by all who live in unrighteousness and die without experiencing Christ’s salvation, there is no way to know whether Gaddafi did not repent and turn to Christ in the closing days, hours and minutes of his life. Only God knows this. However, we do know that all who do not repent of their sins and turn to Christ alone for eternal salvation, will experience the wrath of God.

How can the wrath of God be appeased before death for any individual? To appease means to be brought to a state of peace with God so that the wrath of God will not be experienced?

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God’s wrath & Jesus Christ’s propitiation

There are frequent Bible verses that speak of the wrath of God against sin. See Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8; 4:15; 5:9; 9:22; 12:19; 13:3-5; Eph. 2:3; 5:6; Col. 3:6; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:16; 5:9. So when Paul speaks of Christ’s hilasterion, he can’t be only referring to the covering for sin and cleaning the corruption of human beings (an idea conveyed by expiation), but Christ’s sacrifice needed to appease the God who stated:

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).

This word, ‘propitiation’, is not one that we hear very much from the evangelical pulpits in my part of Australia. Why? Propitiation is not a common word in the Australian English language. My observation is that not much doctrine of this nature is preached from our pulpits.

The Macquarie Dictionary (1997:1712) defines the verb, ‘propitiate’, as ‘to make favourably inclined; appease; conciliate’.[5] We would most often use conciliation rather than propitiation or appeasement in everyday conversation. How can there be conciliation between sinful, rebellious human beings and the absolutely pure and just God Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth who states of Himself, ‘The Lord has established his throne in the heavens and his kingdom rules over all’ (Psalm 103:19).

However, for anyone to enter God’s presence, it cannot be done without God’s appeasing all unrighteous thoughts and actions towards Him. How can this occur? The NT is very clear:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:23-26).

Since the wrath of God is one of the attributes that is an outworking of the nature of God, it is God also who should decided how the wrath towards all human beings can be conciliated, appeased, propitiated so that we can enter God’s presence. God has been very clear about this. It is only through belief in, acceptance of salvation through Christ’s shed blood.

That is why the doctrine of propitiation is so important to the believer. Christ’s blood sacrifice on the cross appeased the wrath of God as indicated in Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10. This propitiation is being weakened by some theologians today who want it to mean expiation. For example, the NIV translates Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; and 4:10 as sacrifice of atonement, atonement or atoning sacrifice.

Many evangelical Christians have not accepted the idea that propitiation = expiation. It was back in 1935 that C. H. Dodd (1935:82-95) opposed the doctrine that Jesus bore God’s wrath against sin. The basic idea of theological liberals is that propitiation may have been common with the pagans but it is foreign to the teaching of OT and NT writers. They assume that because God is love, it would be contradictory for God to love the human beings he created but then inflict His wrath on them. Therefore, they denied propitiation as consistent with the nature of God and used the replacement term, expiation, which means ‘an action that cleanses from sin’ that does not include the teaching on appeasing God’s wrath (Grudem 1994:575 n13).

Dodd’s argument was that the Greek verb, hilaskomai, and its cognates from the LXX could not be applied to Rom. 3:25. Instead, according to Dodd, the meaning in Rom. 3:25 is that of expiation and is contrary to the view of most translators and commentators who are wrong (Dodd 1935:94). Instead of God’s wrath being appeased by the death of Christ, Christ’s sacrifice was to cleanse or cover a person’s sins and uncleanness.[6] One of Dodd’s arguments is that God is almost never the object of the verbs that describe the atonement in the LXX. His view was that ‘the LXX translators did not regard kipper (when used as a religious term) as conveying the sense of propitiating the Deity, but the sense of performing an act whereby guilt or defilement is removed’ (1935:93).

A. G. Hebert supported Dodd’s view:

It cannot be right to think of God’s wrath as being “appeased” by the sacrifice of Christ, as some “transactional” theories of the atonement have done … because it is God who in Christ reconciles the world to himself…. It cannot be right to make any opposition between the wrath of the Father and the love of the Son (in Erickson 1985:810).

George Eldon Ladd (1974:429-430) has refuted Dodd’s views on hilaskomai, demonstrating that it does refer to propitiation and not expiation. Ladd provides this rejoinder (Ladd 1974:429-430):[7]

If we check Hellenistic Greek writers such as Josephus and Philo, uniformly the OT word means ‘to propitiate’. This is also true if we check the Apostolic Fathers of the NT era.[8] Leon Morris is pointed in showing that the ‘expiation’ translation is a recent invention: ‘If the LXX translators and the New Testament writers evolved an entirely new meaning of the word group, it perished with them, and was not resurrected until our own day’ (Morris 1950-51:233).

There are actually three places in the LXX where the word, exhilaskesthai, is used in the sense of appeasing the wrath of God, as propitiation. These are in Zech. 7:2; 8:22 and Mal. 1:9. Dodd’s (1935:233) promotion of the view that there is something exceptional about this view of these three references failed to convince Ladd.

While it is true that the verb, exhilaskesthai, is used in the OT with God as its object, ‘it is equally true that the verb is never followed by an accusative of sin in the canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament’ (Ladd 1974:430).

This is the most significant emphasis: While it is true that the OT does not speak of appeasing the wrath of God, it is true that the context for the thought, where the word is used, is appeasing the wrath of God. ‘In many places atonement is necessary to save life that otherwise would be forfeited—apparently because of the wrath of God’ (Ladd 1974:430).

Therefore, I agree with Erickson (1985:811) that C. H. Dodd’s conclusions, although they have been prominent, are inaccurate because Dodd may have had an inaccurate view of the Trinity, as seen by his failure to present the opposition to his expiation view in relation to Zech. 7:2; 8:22; and Mal. 1:9. Dodd’s kind of emphasis is shown in Bible translations such as the RSV, NRSV, NIV, NEB, REB[9], NET, Wycliffe, CEV, God’s Word translation, Good News Bible, Darby, and Young’s Literal where ‘expiation’ or ‘sacrifice of atonement’ is favoured over ‘propitiation’ in critical verses such as Rom. 3:25-26. For a ‘propitiation’ view of these two verses, see the ESV, NASB, English RV, ASV, KJV, NKJV, Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Amplified Bible, and J. B. Phillips.

There are passages in Paul’s letters, such as Romans 3:25-26, which cannot provide a satisfactory interpretation outside of this understanding of propitiation – appeasing the wrath of God. When Jesus is the hilasterion (propitiation, not expiation), ‘this proves both that God is just (his wrath required the sacrifice) and that he is the justifier of those who have faith in Jesus (his love provided the sacrifice for them)’ (Erickson 1985:811).

Harold O. J. Brown has rightly stated that ‘the history of the church is the history of heresies’ (1969:165). We need to understand the unorthodox theology of people like C. H. Dodd in relation to the doctrine of propitiation (appeasing God’s wrath against sin). See especially Roger Nicole’s (1955) refutation of Dodd’s view.[10]

God’s communicable attributes

The Hebrew word, kaphar, is rendered as exilaskomai, meaning to propitiate or appease, in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the OT. However, the word, exilaskomai, does not appear in the NT. Instead, verb, hilaskomai, is in Luke 18:13 and Heb. 2:17. The noun hilasmos is in 1 John 2:1; 4:10, and the adjective hilasterion is used twice in Rom. 3:25 & Heb. 9:5. The wrath of God is a teaching in John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; 2:5; 5:9; Eph. 5:6; 1 Thess. 1:10; Heb. 3:11 and Rev. 19:15.

The Greek words for ‘propitiation’ signify what Christ’s death does to conciliate / appease the wrath of God. Evangelical theologian, Wayne Grudem, defines propitiation as ‘a sacrifice that bears God’s wrath to the end and in so doing changes God’s wrath toward us into favor’ (1994:575). He places the wrath of God in ‘the communicable attributes of God’.

In an earlier generation, William G. T. Shedd, wrote,

‘By the suffering of the sinner’s atoning substitute, the divine wrath at sin is propitiated, and as a consequence of this propitiation, the punishment dur to sin is released, or not inflicted upon the transgressor. This release or non-infliction of penalty is “forgiveness” in the Biblical representation’ (in Thiessen 1949:326).

There is abundant biblical evidence that the wrath of God is an essential attribute of our Almighty God. We praise God that his wrath is in his nature as much as his love, patience and forgiveness.

Conclusion

A good exegetical case can be made for the doctrine of Christ’s propitiation, appeasing the wrath of God. The wrath of God is experienced by all who do not believe in Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. The wrath of God is not limited to tyrants like Gaddafi and despots like Hitler, Idi Amin and others who authorised genocide. ‘But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness’ (Rom. 1:18 NLT). The apostle Paul understood that the death of Christ was propitiatory – Christ died to appease the wrath of God against sin. This is stated beautifully in 1 John 2:1-2:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

For more of my articles, see ‘Truth Challenge’.

Works consulted

Brown, H O J 1969. The protest of a troubled Protestant. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Dodd, C H 1935. The Bible and the Greeks. London: Hodder & Stoughton.

Erickson, M J 1985. Christian theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Grudem, W 1994. Systematic theology: An introduction to biblical doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

The Macquarie dictionary 1997. NSW Australia: Macquarie University.

Morris, L 1950-51. The use of hilaskenesthai in biblical Greek. Expository Times 62, 227-233.

Nicole, R 1955. C. H. Dodd and the doctrine of propitiation. Westminster Theological Journal, 117-157. May, Vol. XVII.

Thiessen, H C 1949. Introductory lectures in systematic theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Notes:


[1] Dated 10 September 2011 (Accessed 22 October 2011).

[2] The ‘enslavers’ are those who take someone captive in order to sell them into slavery (based on the ESV footnote). All biblical quotes in this article are from the English Standard Version.

[3] Or ‘healthy’ (ESV footnote).

[4] The original said, “This one”, but the context indicates that this one is “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (Acts 4:10).

[5] The same definition is at dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/propitiate (Accessed 22 October 2011).

[6] I was alerted to this information from Dodd by Erickson (1985:820).

[7] Erickson (1985:810-811) drew my attention to these 4 points.

[8] See First Clement (end of the first century) and the Shepard of Hermas (beginning of the second century), where hilaskomai means ‘propitiating God’.

[9] This is the Revised English Bible, an update of the NEB, but an online edition could not be found. I expect that it would follow the NEB.

[10] Unfortunately Nicole’s article is not available for free access online.

 

Copyright © 2011 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 11 October 2015.

Is the God of Islam the same God as Elohim of the Christian Scriptures?

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Medallion showing “Allah” (God) in Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

By Spencer D Gear

A Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands, Tiny Muskens, has proposed that Dutch Catholics should pray to Allah, as ‘ God doesn’t mind what he is called’. The Catholic News reported:

Breda Bishop Tiny Muskens, who once worked as missionary in Indonesia, has proposed that Dutch Catholics should pray to Allah just as Christians already do in other countries with significant Muslim populations.
Radio Netherlands reports that Bishop Muskens says his country should look to Indonesia, where the Christian churches already pray to Allah. It is also common in the Arab world: Christian and Muslim Arabs use the words God and Allah interchangeably.

Speaking on the Dutch TV programme Network on Monday evening, Bishop Muskens says it could take another 100 years but eventually the name Allah will be used by Dutch churches. And that will promote rapprochement between the two religions.

Muskens doesn’t expect his idea to be greeted with much enthusiasm. The 71-year-old bishop, who will soon be retiring due to ill health, says God doesn’t mind what he is called. God is above such “discussion and bickering”.[1]

This view is alive and well on Christian forums on the www in the 21st century. Some claim that the Allah of Islam is the same God as the Almighty in Christianity.[2] Albert Mohler Jr. (2007), to the contrary, stated, ‘From its very starting point Islam denies what Christianity takes as its central truth claim — the fact that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father’.

Who is correct?

The promotion of idolatry

J. C. Ryle, an evangelical and the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool, wrote in the 19th century:

‘I believe that we have come to a time when the subject of idolatry demands a thorough and searching investigation. I believe that idolatry is near us, all around us, and in the midst of us, to a very fearful extent. The second commandment, in one word, is in danger. “The plague is begun”‘.[3]

Ryle’s definition was that ‘idolatry is a worship, in which the honor due to the Triune God, and to God only, is given to some of His creatures, or to some invention of His creatures’.[4]

A lawyer once came to test Jesus with the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” What was Jesus’ response? “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the great and first commandment” (Matt 22:35-38).

Since the worship of God is of first importance to us, engaging in false worship is one of the greatest calamities Christians can practice. Worshipping a false god is a serious problem as it is worshipping an idol, something the Israelites fell into on a number of occasions according to the OT.

I’m reminded of the warning against idolatry in 1 John 5:21: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols”. Therefore, it is of vital importance that we know who God is. So the differentiation between Allah and Elohim-God is of top priority.

Knowing what is idolatry is important as it is a dangerous practice. It can involve the worship of demons (see 1 Cor. 10:20 and compare it with Deut. 32:17). From the OT, we know that people can worship another god or demons and think they are worshipping Elohim God (see Ex. 32:1-6; 1 Kings 12:28-20)

That’s why it is of decisive importance to know that Elohim, the Almighty God, is not the same god as Allah. There is only one God and He is not Allah, according to the Scriptures. Nowhere in the OT and NT is God identified as Allah in the original languages (Hebrew-Aramaic OT and Greek NT).

One writer on Christian Forums stated: “If Abraham worshiped God and Abraham is recognized as the ‘father’ of believers then Judaism, Islam and Christianity worship the same God”.[5]

My response[6] was that this person was trying to argue for the ideology of old – old-fashioned religious syncretism.

What is syncretism?

W. A. V. Hooft (1963:11) stated that

‘the syncretic approach may be defined as ‘the view which holds that there is no unique revelation in history, that there are many different ways to reach the divine reality, that all formulations of religious truth or experience are by their very nature inadequate expressions of that truth and that it is necessary to harmonise as much as possible all religious ideas and experiences so as to create one universal religion for mankind’ (in Anderson 1984:17).

Sir Norman Anderson (1984:17) observed that syncretism was not a new phenomenon but was practised in ancient Israel and was denounced by the prophets. It also was a characteristic of Hellenism, Gnosticism and had wide practice in the Roman Empire. Emperor Alexander Severus

‘had in his private chapel not only the statues of the deified emperors, but also those of the miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana, of Christ, of Abraham and of Orpheus’ (Hooft 1963:15, cited in Anderson 1984:17).

The essence of syncretism is that all paths lead to the same God. In a paper on Hinduism given to the world’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago 1893, it was stated:

‘May He who is the Brahma of the Hindus, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Buddha of the Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heaven of the Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble idea!’[7]

This was an example of the promotion of syncretism in the 19th century. The person on Christian Forums in the 21st century was attempting to make out that just because a religion (Islam) claims to go back to Abraham, that it represents the same religion as that of Judaism and Christianity. That is the promotion of a very old religious ideology. That is an example of support for religious syncretism, which is an old-fashioned way of encouraging theological falsehood, worship of an idol instead of the true God Almighty.

He wanted to syncretise Christianity and Islam because they go back to the one Abraham. A religion that supposedly goes back to Abraham (Islam) and tries to identify this with the Abraham of Israel and Christianity, is just pulling our theological ‘legs’. There is no way that the doctrines of Christianity can be harmonised with those of Islam, which is what syncretism tries to do.

On the Internet, this person’s theologically liberal promotion of world religions was an attempt to make the God of Judeo-Christianity look like the Allah of Islam. It sounds like and looks like religious syncretism and it is a false amalgamation – thus, idolatry.

This is one of the major areas where this attempt to syncretise Christianity and Islam fails with its effort to make Allah = Elohim. For the Muslim, one of the unforgivable sins is what is called shirk[8], which is the association of anyone or anything with the Almighty. Therefore, the very idea of the incarnation of the Deity is anathema. It is blasphemy, especially for the orthodox Sunni Muslims that make up about 90% of the world’s Muslims.[9]

The Qur’an demonstrates this theology of ‘ruin’ and ‘tremendous sin’ of those who promote Allah as being the God of Jesus’ incarnation:

‘Had there been within the heavens and earth gods besides Allah , they both would have been ruined. So exalted is Allah , Lord of the Throne, above what they describe’ (Al-Anbiya 21:22).

‘Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills. And he who associates others with Allah has certainly fabricated a tremendous sin’ (Al-Nisa 4:48).

The Unitarian god of Islam

Abul A’La Mawdudi has stated:

The most fundamental and the most important teaching of Prophet Muhammad (blessings of Allah and peace be upon him) is faith in the unity of God. This is expressed in the primary Kalimah of Islam as “There is no deity but Allah” (La ilaha illallah). This beautiful phrase is the bedrock of Islam, its foundation and its essence. It is the expression of this belief which differentiates a true Muslim from a kafir (unbeliever), mushrik (one who associates others with God in His Divinity) or dahriyah (an atheist).

The acceptance or denial of this phrase produces a world of difference between man and man. The believers in it become one single community and those who do not believe in it form an opposing group. For the believers there is unhampered progress and success in this world and in the hereafter, while failure and ignominy are the ultimate lot of those who refuse to believe in it.[10]

So, the incarnation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, in the Trinitarian God of Scripture is anathema to the Muslims. This is one clear indication that Allah does not equal Elohim. The Trinity of Christianity is incompatible with the Unitarianism[11] of Islam.

Of Jesus, the NT Scriptures state,

And the Word [Jesus] became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 ESV).

Who is this Jesus, the Word?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men (John 1:1-4 ESV).

It could be not clearer, from biblical revelation, that Jesus was and is God and never ceased to be God during his incarnation on earth.

For the Christian, the unity of God has a very different understanding to that of Islam. The unity of God can be defined as follows:

‘God is not divided into parts, yet we see different attributes of God emphasized at different times. This attribute of God has also been called God’s simplicity, using simple in the less common sense of “not complex” or “not composed of parts” (Grudem 1994:177).

When we understand both Christianity and Islam, it is impossible for Islam’s Allah to be one and the same with the Lord God Almighty of reality and as revealed in the Christian Scriptures.

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. (2007), in his reply to Tiny Muskens’ syncretism, has rightly stated the issues when people try to identify the Trinitarian God of Christianity with that of the Unitarian god of Islam:

Those making the case for a Christian appropriation of Allah must take their argument in one of two trajectories.  The first trajectory is to argue that Allah can be used in a generic way to refer to any (presumably monotheistic) deity.  This case will be very difficult to make.  Language, theology, and worship are so closely intertwined that it is difficult, if not impossible, to argue for a generic use of Allah.  Further evidence against this trajectory is the fact that non-Arabic speaking Muslims also use Allah when referring to their god.

The second trajectory presents even more of a problem.  Those following this line of argument must make the case that Allah and God refer to the same deity.  This represents a huge problem for both Muslims and Christians.  Allah is not a personal deity in the sense that the God of the Bible is.  Furthermore, the Qur’an explicitly denies that Allah has a son, and Islam considers the notion of a triune God to be blasphemy.

Thus, from its very starting point Islam denies what Christianity takes as its central truth claim — the fact that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of the Father.  If Allah has no Son by definition, Allah is not the God who revealed himself in the Son.  How then can the use of Allah by Christians lead to anything but confusion . . . and worse?

To be faithful Christians, we must obey John’s exhortation: ‘Keep yourselves from idols’ (1 John 5:21). To worship Allah (as defined by Islam) is to worship another god and that is idolatry.

Appendix A: Schaff & Muir on Islam

Eminent church historian Philip Schaff noted that

Goethe and Carlyle swung from the orthodox abuse to the opposite extreme of a pantheistic hero-worshiping over-estimate of Mohammed and the Koran by extending the sphere of revelation and inspiration, and obliterating the line which separates Christianity from all other religions….

But the enthusiasm kindled by Carlyle for the prophet of Mecca has been considerably checked by fuller information from the original sources as brought out in the learned biographies of Weil, Nöldeke, Sprenger and Muir…. Sir William Muir concedes his original honesty and zeal as a reformer and warner, but assumes a gradual deterioration to the judicial blindness of a self-deceived heart, and even a kind of Satanic inspiration in his later revelations (Schaff n d: 4:92).

Schaff used the research of Muir who stated of Mahomet (Muir’s spelling)[1]:

He was delivered over to the judicial blindness of a self deceived heart; that, having voluntarily shut his eyes against the light, he was left miserably to grope in the darkness of his own choosing….

I would warn the reader against seeking to portray in his mind a character in all of Mahomet, its parts consistent with itself as the character of Mahomet. The truth is that the strangest inconsistencies blended together according to the wont of human nature) throughout the life of the Prophet. The student of the history will trace for himself how the pure and lofty aspirations of Mahomet were first tinged, and then gradually debased by a half unconscious self-deception; and how in this process truth merged into falsehood, sincerity into guile, – these opposite principles often co-existing even as active agencies in his conduct. The reader will observe that simultaneously with the anxious desire to extinguish idolatry, and to promote religion and virtue in the world, there was nurtured by the Prophet in his own heart, a licentious self-indulgence; till in the end, assuming to be the favourite of Heaven, he justified himself by “revelations” from God in the most flagrant breaches of morality. He will remark that while Mahomet cherished a kind and tender disposition, “weeping with them that wept,” and binding to his person the hearts of his followers by the ready and self-denying offices of love and friendship, he could yet take pleasure in cruel and perfidious assassination, could gloat over the massacre of an entire tribe, and savagely consign the innocent babe to the fires of hell. Inconsistencies such as these continually present themselves from the period of Mahomet’s arrival at Medina; and it is by the study of these inconsistencies that his character must be rightly comprehended. The key to many difficulties of this description may be found, I believe, in the chapter “on the belief of Mahomet in his own inspiration.” when once he had dared to forge the name of the Most High God as the seal and authority of his own words and actions, the germ was laid from which the errors of his after life freely and fatally developed themselves (Muir 4:320, 322-323).


References:

Al-Bab 2009. Arabic words and the Roman alphabet. Available at: http://www.al-bab.com/arab/language/roman1.htm (Accessed 13 February 2012).

Anderson, N 1984. Christianity and World Religions. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press.

Grudem w 1994. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Hooft, W A V 1963. No Other Name: The Choice between Syncretism and Christian Universalism. London: SCM.

Krusch, D 2011. ‘Sunni Islam’, Jewish Virtual Library, available at: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/sunni.html (Accessed 15 September 2011).

Mohler Jr., A 2007. ‘What does God care what we call Him?’, August 22, available at: http://www.albertmohler.com/2007/08/22/what-does-god-care-what-we-call-him/ (Accessed 15 September 2011).

Muir, W 1861. The biography of Mahomet, and the rise of Islam, in W Muir, The life of Mahomet (e-book), 4 vols, 4:302-324. London: Smith, Elder, & Co. Answering Islam, available at: http://www.answering-islam.org/Books/Muir/Life4/chap37.htm (Accessed 13 February 2012).

Endnotes:


[1] ‘Pray to Allah, Dutch bishop proposes’, Catholic News, 13-17 August 2007. Available at: http://www.cathnews.com/article.aspx?aeid=5904 (Accessed 15 September 2011).

[2] For a lively discussion of this topic, see Christian Forums, “Is Allah God?”.

[3] J C Ryle, ‘Idolatry’, available at: http://www.biblebb.com/files/ryle/warn8.htm (Accessed 15 September 2011).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Christian Forums, “Is Allah God?”.#53.

[6] I’m OzSpen on Christian Forums.

[7] ‘Paper on Hinduism’ given at the world’s Parliament of Religions, Chicago, September 19, 1893. Available at: http://www.mathfundamentals.org/geocities/Religion/Vivekananda/Paper.htm (Accessed 15 September 2011).

[8] For an explanation of shirk, see ‘Shirk (Polytheism)’, available at: http://www.missionislam.com/knowledge/Shirk.htm (accessed 15 September 2011).

[9] This paragraph was based on information from Anderson (1984:17). David Krusch (2011) stated that ‘Some estimates say that Muslims constitute 20 percent of the world’s population. Although the exact demographics of the branches of Islam are disputed, most scholars believe that Sunni Muslims comprise 87-90 percent of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims’.

[10] Abul A’La Mawdudi, Towards Understanding Islam, ‘Tawhid: Faith in the unity of God’, islamworld.net. Available at: http://islamworld.net/docs/mautaw1.html (Accessed 15 September 2011).

[11] Muslims use the term, ‘the unity of God’ in a different sense to that of Christianity and by ‘the unity of God’, Muslims mean Unitarianism. For them, God is one, but not Trinity.

 

Copyright © 2012 Spencer D. Gear. This document last updated at Date: 18 December 2015.
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